Arthropod cuticles play an important role as the first barrier against invading pathogens. We extensively determined the sequences of horseshoe crab cuticular proteins. Proteins extracted from a part of the ventral side of the cuticle were purified by chitin-affinity chromatography, and separated by two-dimensional SDS/PAGE. Proteins appearing on the gel were designated high molecular mass chitin-binding proteins, and these proteins were then grouped into classes based on their approximate isoelectric points and predominant amino acid compositions. Members of groups designated basic G, basic Y, and acidic S groups contained a so-called Rebers and Riddiford consensus found in arthropod cuticular proteins. Proteins designated acidic DE25 and DE29 each contained a Cys-rich domain with sequences similar to those of insect peritrophic matrix proteins and chitinases. In contrast, basic QH4 and QH10 contained no consensus sequences found in known chitin-binding proteins. Alternatively, a low molecular mass chitin-binding fraction was prepared by size exclusion chromatography, and 15 low molecular mass chitin-binding proteins, named P1 through P15, were isolated. With the exception of P9 and P15, all were found to be identical to known antimicrobial peptides. P9 consisted of a Kunitz-type chymotrypsin inhibitor sequence, and P15 contained a Cys-rich motif found in insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins. Interestingly, we observed transglutaminase- dependent polymerization of nearly all high molecular mass chitin-binding proteins, a finding suggests that transglutaminase-dependent cross-linking plays an important role in host defense in the arthropod cuticle, analogous to that observed in the epidermal cornified cell envelope in mammals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology