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Exposure of Trypanosoma brucei to an N-acetylglucosamine-Binding Lectin Induces VSG Switching and Glycosylation Defects Resulting in Reduced Infectivity

AuthorsCastillo Acosta, Víctor M.; Ruiz-Pérez, Luis Miguel; Van Damme, Els J. M.; Balzarini, Jan; González-Pacanowska, D.
Issue Date6-Mar-2015
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
AbstractTrypanosoma 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
Publisher version (URL)http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0003612#ack
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