Schistosoma mansoni egg antigens are mostly responsible for the granulomatous pathology in human intestinal schistosomiasis. Several previous studies have indicated that the induction of an immune response against some parasite enzymes may protect against pathology. The present work was designed to identify enzyme activities present in a standard soluble egg antigen (SEA) preparation. Simple colorimetric analyses were performed incubating SEA with 2-naphthyl, 2-naphthylamide (2NA), or p-nitrophenyl substrates at different pHs in the absence of added effectors. Results showed prominent acid phosphatase (pH 5.4), alkaline phosphatase (pH 8.5), and N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase (pH 5.4) activities. Relevant peptidase activities were also detected at pH 6.5–7.5 against 2NA derivatives of (1) aliphatic (α-Ala > β-Ala > Leu > Met > S-benzyl-Cys), polar (Ser > Gln), basic (Arg > Lys > ornithine), and acidic (Glu) amino acids; (2) dipeptides: X-Ala (X = Gly > Leu > Lys > Asp), X-Arg (X = Ala > Arg > Phe > Gly > Pro > Asp), Ser-Met, and Phe-Pro; and (3) tripeptides (Ala-Phe-Pro > Phe-Pro-Ala). The data demonstrated that S. mansoni SEA contains a rich set of hydrolases with different specificities that might play a role in the egg physiology and possibly also in the host–parasite relationships.
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