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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Jun;5(6):e1209. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001209. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Evidence of gene conversion in genes encoding the Gal/GalNac lectin complex of Entamoeba.

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  • 1Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


The human gut parasite Entamoeba histolytica, uses a lectin complex on its cell surface to bind to mucin and to ligands on the intestinal epithelia. Binding to mucin is necessary for colonisation and binding to intestinal epithelia for invasion, therefore blocking this binding may protect against amoebiasis. Acquired protective immunity raised against the lectin complex should create a selection pressure to change the amino acid sequence of lectin genes in order to avoid future detection. We present evidence that gene conversion has occurred in lineages leading to E. histolytica strain HM1:IMSS and E. dispar strain SAW760. This evolutionary mechanism generates diversity and could contribute to immune evasion by the parasites.

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