In silico modeling and characterization of phytoparasitic nematodes translationally-controlled tumor proteins.
Plant parasitic nematodes infect a wide range of hosts representing the largest source of biotic stress experienced by plants. Meloidogyne genus comprises the most important parasitic nematodes, also known as root-knot nematodes. These parasitic organisms obtain nutrients to support their development through complex interactions with their hosts. The translationally-controlled tumor protein (TCTP) is widely expressed in eukaryotic organisms, and is related to a great diversity of biological processes such as calcium binding, cell proliferation and growth, pluripotency, regulation of apoptosis, microtubules stabilization, and histamine release. TCTP has been identified in the secretions of plant-parasitic nematodes, and may play a role in suppressing the plant immunity and programmed cell, hence promoting nematode parasitism. Our results revealed a high conservation of the evaluated protein sequences and little variation in their physico-chemical characteristics, such as isoelectric points and hidropathicity. Phylogenetic analysis also revealed the presence of three main groups of TCTPs, corresponding to plant parasitic, animal parasitic and free-living nematodes. Six plant parasitic TCTPs tertiary structure models were generated by homology modeling. The constructed models were highly similar and most of the structural variations occurred outside the characterized functional domains. To our knowledge, these are the first theoretical models of plant parasitic nematodes TCTPs and these results may provide a theoretical basis for future studies of host plant resistance to nematode infection.