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Exposure of Trypanosoma brucei to an N-acetylglucosamine-binding lectin induces VSG switching and glycosylation defects resulting in reduced infectivity.


ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma brucei variant surface glycoproteins (VSG) are glycosylated by both paucimannose and oligomannose structures which are involved in the formation of a protective barrier against the immune system. Here, we report that the stinging nettle lectin (UDA), with predominant N-acetylglucosamine-binding specificity, interacts with glycosylated VSGs and kills parasites by provoking defects in endocytosis together with impaired cytokinesis. Prolonged exposure to UDA induced parasite resistance based on a diminished capacity to bind the lectin due to an enrichment of biantennary paucimannose and a reduction of triantennary oligomannose structures. Two molecular mechanisms involved in resistance were identified: VSG switching and modifications in N-glycan composition. Glycosylation defects were correlated with the down-regulation of the TbSTT3A and/or TbSTT3B genes (coding for oligosaccharyltransferases A and B, respectively) responsible for glycan specificity. Furthermore, UDA-resistant trypanosomes exhibited severely impaired infectivity indicating that the resistant phenotype entails a substantial fitness cost. The results obtained further support the modification of surface glycan composition resulting from down-regulation of the genes coding for oligosaccharyltransferases as a general resistance mechanism in response to prolonged exposure to carbohydrate-binding agents.

SUBMITTER: Castillo-Acosta VM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4351956 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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