Phenol oxidase, a copper-containing enzyme, is widely distributed not only in animals but also in plants and fungi, which is responsible for initiating the biosynthesis of melanin. Activation of prophenol oxidase in arthropods is important in host defense. However, the prophenol oxidase-activating system remains poorly understood at the molecular level. Here we show that the coagulation cascade of the horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus is linked to prophenol oxidase activation, with the oxygen carrier hemocyanin functioning as a substitute for prophenol oxidase. Tachypleus clotting enzyme functionally transforms hemocyanin to phenol oxidase, and the conversion reaches a plateau at 1:1 stoichiometry without proteolytic cleavage. The active site-masked clotting enzyme also has the same effect, suggesting that complex formation of the clotting enzyme with hemocyanin is critical for the conversion. The two systems of blood coagulation and prophenol oxidase activation may have evolved from a common ancestral protease cascade.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology