Mechanisms for a novel immune evasion strategy in the scabies mite Sarcoptes scabiei: A multigene family of inactivated serine proteases

Deborah Holt, Katja Fischer, G Allen, Danny Wilson, P Wilson, R Slade, Bart Currie, Shelley Walton, David J Kemp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Parasitic infestation of the skin by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei is a significant problem worldwide, particularly in socially disadvantaged communities. A multigene family of at least 24 homologs of a serine protease allergen have been identified in S. scabiei. Surprisingly, the products of all but one of these genes are predicted to be catalytically inactive, due to mutations at a critical triad of amino acids at the active site. We discuss the possibility that these genes for inactivated proteases have been conserved because they mediate a novel host defense evasion strategy that the mite has evolved as an adaptation to parasitism of the epidermis. The identification of this family, and elucidation of its value to the parasite, may present an unanticipated approach to protective vaccination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1419-1424
    Number of pages6
    JournalThe Journal of Investigative Dermatology: an international journal for research in cutaneous biology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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