Interaction of a Wolbachia WSP-like protein with a nuclear-encoded protein of Brugia malayi

Elena Melnikow, Shulin Xu, Jing Liu, Lin Li, Yelena Oksov, Elodie Ghedin, Thomas R. Unnasch, Sara Lustigman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Brugia malayi endosymbiont Wolbachia has recently been shown to be essential for its host's survival and development. However, relatively little is known about Wolbachia proteins that interact with the filarial host and which might be important in maintaining the obligate symbiotic relationship. The Wolbachia surface proteins (WSPs) are members of the outer membrane protein family and we hypothesise that they might be involved in the Wolbachia-. Brugia symbiotic relationship. Notably, immunolocalisation studies of two WSP members, WSP-0432 and WSP-0284 in B. malayi female adult worms showed that the corresponding proteins are not only present on the surface of Wolbachia but also in the host tissues, with WSP-0284 more abundant in the cuticle, hypodermis and the nuclei within the embryos. These results confirmed that WSPs might be secreted by Wolbachia into the worm's tissue. Our present studies focus on the potential involvement of WSP-0284 in the symbiotic relationship of Wolbachia with its filarial host. We show that WSP-0284 binds specifically to B. malayi crude protein extracts. Furthermore, a fragment of the hypothetical B. malayi protein (Bm1_46455) was found to bind WSP-0284 by panning of a B. malayi cDNA library. The interaction of WSP-0284 and this protein was further confirmed by ELISA and pull-down assays. Localisation by immunoelectron microscopy within Wolbachia cells as well as in the worm's tissues, cuticle and nuclei within embryos established that both proteins are present in similar locations within the parasite and the bacteria. Identifying such specific interactions between B. malayi and Wolbachia proteins should lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of the filarial nematode and Wolbachia symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011


  • Brugia malayi
  • Filariasis
  • Phage display panning
  • Symbiotic relationship
  • Wolbachia
  • Wolbachia surface protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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