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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 171537, 10 pages
Research Article

Cysteine-Free Proteins in the Immunobiology of Arthropod-Borne Diseases

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Central Receiving, 200 W. Lake Street, Campus Delivery 1619, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

Received 1 August 2009; Accepted 13 October 2009

Academic Editor: Abhay R. Satoskar

Copyright © 2010 J. Santiago Mejia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


One approach to identify epitopes that could be used in the design of vaccines to control several arthropod-borne diseases simultaneously is to look for common structural features in the secretome of the pathogens that cause them. Using a novel bioinformatics technique, cysteine-abundance and distribution analysis, we found that many different proteins secreted by several arthropod-borne pathogens, including Plasmodium falciparum, Borrelia burgdorferi, and eight species of Proteobacteria, are devoid of cysteine residues. The identification of three cysteine-abundance and distribution patterns in several families of proteins secreted by pathogenic and nonpathogenic Proteobacteria, and not found when the amino acid analyzed was tryptophan, provides evidence of forces restricting the content of cysteine residues in microbial proteins during evolution. We discuss these findings in the context of protein structure and function, antigenicity and immunogenicity, and host-parasite relationships.