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Eukaryot Cell. 2012 Jun;11(6):743-51. doi: 10.1128/EC.00054-12. Epub 2012 Apr 13.

Exposure to host ligands correlates with colocalization of Gal/GalNAc lectin subunits in lipid rafts and phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate signaling in Entamoeba histolytica.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Biochemistry, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA.


Entamoeba histolytica is an intestinal parasite that causes dysentery and liver abscess. Parasite cell surface receptors, such as the Gal/GalNAc lectin, facilitate attachment to host cells and extracellular matrix. The Gal/GalNAc lectin binds to galactose or N-acetylgalactosamine residues on host components and is composed of heavy (Hgl), intermediate (Igl), and light (Lgl) subunits. Although Igl is constitutively localized to lipid rafts (cholesterol-rich membrane domains), Hgl and Lgl transiently associate with this compartment in a cholesterol-dependent fashion. In this study, trophozoites were exposed to biologically relevant ligands to determine if ligand binding influences the submembrane distribution of the subunits. Exposure to human red blood cells (hRBCs) or collagen, which are bona fide Gal/GalNAc lectin ligands, was correlated with enrichment of Hgl and Lgl in rafts. This enrichment was abrogated in the presence of galactose, suggesting that direct lectin-ligand interactions are necessary to influence subunit location. Using a cell line that is able to attach to, but not phagocytose, hRBCs, it was shown that physical attachment to ligands was not sufficient to induce the enrichment of lectin subunits in rafts. Additionally, the mutant had lower levels of phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP(2)); PIP(2) loading restored the ability of this mutant to respond to ligands with enrichment of subunits in rafts. Finally, intracellular calcium levels increased upon attachment to collagen; this increase was essential for the enrichment of lectin subunits in rafts. Together, these data provide evidence that ligand-induced enrichment of lectin subunits in rafts may be the first step in a signaling pathway that involves both PIP(2) and calcium signaling.

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