Antigen B (AgB) is the major protein secreted by the Echinococcus granulosus metacestode and is involved in key host-parasite interactions during infection. The full comprehension of AgB functions depends on the elucidation of several structural aspects that remain unknown, such as its subunit composition and oligomeric states.
The subunit composition of E. granulosus AgB oligomers from individual bovine and human cysts was assessed by mass spectrometry associated with electrophoretic analysis. AgB8/1, AgB8/2, AgB8/3 and AgB8/4 subunits were identified in all samples analyzed, and an AgB8/2 variant (AgB8/2v8) was found in one bovine sample. The exponentially modified protein abundance index (emPAI) was used to estimate the relative abundance of the AgB subunits, revealing that AgB8/1 subunit was relatively overrepresented in all samples. The abundance of AgB8/3 subunit varied between bovine and human cysts. The oligomeric states formed by E. granulosus AgB and recombinant subunits available, rAgB8/1, rAgB8/2 and rAgB8/3, were characterized by native PAGE, light scattering and microscopy. Recombinant subunits showed markedly distinct oligomerization behaviors, forming oligomers with a maximum size relation of rAgB8/3>rAgB8/2>rAgB8/1. Moreover, the oligomeric states formed by rAgB8/3 subunit were more similar to those observed for AgB purified from hydatid fluid. Pressure-induced dissociation experiments demonstrated that the molecular assemblies formed by the more aggregative subunits, rAgB8/2 and rAgB8/3, also display higher structural stability.
For the first time, AgB subunit composition was analyzed in samples from single hydatid cysts, revealing qualitative and quantitative differences between samples. We showed that AgB oligomers are formed by different subunits, which have distinct abundances and oligomerization properties. Overall, our findings have significantly contributed to increase the current knowledge on AgB expression and structure, highlighting issues that may help to understand the parasite adaptive response during chronic infection.
Antigen B (AgB) is the major secretory protein of the Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst, the causative agent of cystic hydatid disease. Structurally, AgB is a multisubunit protein formed by 8-kDa subunits, but it is not known which subunits are secreted by a single parasite (cyst) and how they interact in the formation of distinct AgB oligomeric states. Here, we investigated AgB subunit composition and oligomeric states in individual samples from bovine and human cysts. We identified AgB8/1, AgB8/2, AgB8/3 and AgB8/4 subunits in AgB oligomers of all samples analyzed. Quantitative and qualitative differences in the expression of AgB subunits were observed within and between samples. Using recombinant subunits as models, we showed that AgB subunits form distinct oligomeric states, with a rAgB8/3>rAgB8/2>rAgB8/1 maximum size relation. We also demonstrated by different experimental approaches that rAgB8/3 oligomers are more similar, both in size and morphology, to those observed for E. granulosus AgB. Overall, we provided experimental evidences that AgB is composed of different subunits within a single cyst, and that subunits have different abundances and oligomerization properties. These issues are important for the understanding of AgB expression and structure variations, and their impact for the host-parasite cross-talk.