Typical Kunitz proteins (I2 family of the MEROPS database, Kunitz-A family) are metazoan competitive inhibitors of serine peptidases that form tight complexes of 1:1 stoichiometry, mimicking substrates. The cestode Echinococcus granulosus, the dog tapeworm causing cystic echinococcosis in humans and livestock, encodes an expanded family of monodomain Kunitz proteins, some of which are secreted to the dog host interface. The Kunitz protein EgKU-7 contains, in addition to the Kunitz domain with the anti-peptidase loop comprising a critical arginine, a C-terminal extension of ∼20 amino acids. Kinetic, electrophoretic, and mass spectrometry studies using EgKU-7, a C-terminally truncated variant, and a mutant in which the critical arginine was substituted by alanine, show that EgKU-7 is a tight inhibitor of bovine and canine trypsins with the unusual property of possessing two instead of one site of interaction with the peptidases. One site resides in the anti-peptidase loop and is partially hydrolyzed by bovine but not canine trypsins, suggesting specificity for the target enzymes. The other site is located in the C-terminal extension. This extension can be hydrolyzed in a particular arginine by cationic bovine and canine trypsins but not by anionic canine trypsin. This is the first time to our knowledge that a monodomain Kunitz-A protein is reported to have two interaction sites with its target. Considering that putative orthologs of EgKU-7 are present in other cestodes, our finding unveils a novel piece in the repertoire of peptidase-inhibitor interactions and adds new notes to the evolutionary host-parasite concerto.

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