Novel family of insect salivary inhibitors blocks contact pathway activation by binding to polyphosphate, heparin, and dextran sulfate

Patricia H. Alvarenga, Xueqing Xu, Fabiano Oliveira, Andrezza C. Chagas, Clarissa R. Nascimento, Ivo M.B. Francischetti, Maria A. Juliano, Luiz Juliano, Julio Scharfstein, Jesus G. Valenzuela, José M.C. Ribeiro, John F. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE - : Polyphosphate and heparin are anionic polymers released by activated mast cells and platelets that are known to stimulate the contact pathway of coagulation. These polymers promote both the autoactivation of factor XII and the assembly of complexes containing factor XI, prekallikrein, and high-molecular-weight kininogen. We are searching for salivary proteins from blood-feeding insects that counteract the effect of procoagulant and proinflammatory factors in the host, including elements of the contact pathway. APPROACH AND RESULTS - : Here, we evaluate the ability of the sand fly salivary proteins, PdSP15a and PdSP15b, to inhibit the contact pathway by disrupting binding of its components to anionic polymers. We attempt to demonstrate binding of the proteins to polyphosphate, heparin, and dextran sulfate. We also evaluate the effect of this binding on contact pathway reactions. We also set out to determine the x-ray crystal structure of PdSP15b and examine the determinants of relevant molecular interactions. Both proteins bind polyphosphate, heparin, and dextran sulfate with high affinity. Through this mechanism they inhibit the autoactivation of factor XII and factor XI, the reciprocal activation of factor XII and prekallikrein, the activation of factor XI by thrombin and factor XIIa, the cleavage of high-molecular-weight kininogen in plasma, and plasma extravasation induced by polyphosphate. The crystal structure of PdSP15b contains an amphipathic helix studded with basic side chains that forms the likely interaction surface. CONCLUSIONS - : The results of these studies indicate that the binding of anionic polymers by salivary proteins is used by blood feeders as an antihemostatic/anti-inflammatory mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2759-2770
Number of pages12
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood coagulation factor inhibitors
  • Bradykinin
  • Factor XI
  • Factor XII
  • Inflammation
  • Kallikreins
  • Leishmania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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