Apyrases are enzymes that hydrolyze nucleotide di- and triphosphates to orthophosphate and mononucleotides. At least two families of enzymes, belonging to the 5′-nucleotidase and to the actin/heat shock 70/sugar kinase superfamily, have evolved independently to serve the apyrase reaction. Both families require either Ca(2+) or Mg(2+) for their action. A novel apyrase enzyme sequence, with no homology to any other known protein sequence, was found recently in the salivary glands of the hematophagous bed bug Cimex lectularius. This enzyme functions exclusively with Ca(2+). Here, we report the finding of a cDNA similar to that of the C. lectularius salivary apyrase isolated from a salivary gland cDNA library of Phlebotomus papatasi. Transfection of insect cells with the P. papatasi salivary gland apyrase cDNA resulted in the secretion of a Ca(2+)-dependent apyrase whose activity was indistinguishable from that in salivary homogenates of P. papatasi. Homologous sequences were found in humans, in another sand fly (Lutzomyia longipalpis), in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and in the protozoan Cryptosporidium parvum, indicating that this family of enzymes is widespread among animal species.

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