Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease affecting approximately 200 million people, primarily in the third world. Schistosoma mansoni, one of the causative agents of this disease, parasitize the human mesenteric and portal blood systems while successfully evading host immune responses. During parasite penetration into the mammalian host and shortly afterwards, the larvae rapidly convert from being sensitive to being resistant to C-mediated killing. Treatment of the C-resistant parasitic forms with trypsin renders the parasite susceptible to C attack, thus indicating the presence of C inhibitory protein(s) on the parasite surface. We describe here an intrinsic schistosome C inhibitory protein (SCIP-1) that exhibits antigenic and functional similarities with the human C-inhibitor CD59. Like CD59, SCIP-1 is capable of inhibiting formation of the C membrane attack complex (MAC), probably by binding to C8 and C9 of the C terminal pathway. In addition, SCIP-1 is apparently also membrane-anchored via glycosyl phosphatidylinositol as it can be specifically released with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C. Soluble SCIP-1, partially purified from Nonidet P-40 extracts of schistosome tegument is capable of inhibiting hemolysis of sensitized sheep erythrocytes and of rabbit erythrocytes by human C. Anti-human CD59 antibodies block this activity of SCIP-1 and in addition, upon binding to intact parasites, render them vulnerable to killing by human and guinea pig C. SCIP-1 is located on the surface of C-resistant forms of the parasite, i.e., 24-h cultured mechanical schistosomula and in vivo-derived adult worms as revealed by immunofluorescence and immunogold electron microscopy studies. These results identify one of the mechanisms schistosomes use to escape immune attack.

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