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Infect Immun. 1992 Jul;60(7):2784-90.

Alterations in protein expression and complement resistance of pathogenic Naegleria amoebae.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 23298-0678.


Highly pathogenic strains of Naegleria fowleri activate the alternative complement pathway but are resistant to lysis. In contrast, weakly pathogenic and nonpathogenic Naegleria spp. activate the complement pathway and are readily lysed. The present study was undertaken to determine whether surface components on amoebae accounted for resistance to complement lysis. Enzymatic removal of surface components from highly pathogenic N. fowleri with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C or with endoglycosidase H increased the susceptibility of these amoebae to complement-mediated lysis. Similar treatment of nonpathogenic amoebae had no effect on susceptibility to complement. Tunicamycin treatment of highly and weakly pathogenic N. fowleri increased susceptibility to lysis by complement in a dose-related manner. Tunicamycin treatment did not alter the susceptibility of nonpathogenic amoebae to complement. Proteins of 234 and 47 kDa were detected in supernatant fluid from phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-treated highly pathogenic amoebae but not in supernatant fluid from phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-treated weakly pathogenic amoebae. Electrophoretic analysis of iodinated surface proteins of highly pathogenic N. fowleri revealed species of 89, 60, 44, and 28 kDa. Western immunoblots of lysates from surface-iodinated amoebae were stained with biotinylated concanavalin A or biotinylated Ulex europaeus agglutinin I. Surface proteins, identified in highly pathogenic amoebae by iodination, were shown to be glycoproteins by lectin analysis specific for the detection of mannose and fucose residues.

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