Send to

Choose Destination
EMBO J. 1992 Oct;11(10):3593-600.

Developmental modification of lipophosphoglycan during the differentiation of Leishmania major promastigotes to an infectious stage.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, University of Dundee, UK.


Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania produce the novel surface glycoconjugate, lipophosphoglycan (LPG), which is required for parasite infectivity. In this study we show that LPG structure is modified during the differentiation of L. major promastigotes from a less infectious form in logarithmic growth phase to a highly infectious 'metacyclic' form during stationary growth phase. In both stages, the LPGs comprise linear chains of phosphorylated oligosaccharide repeat units which are anchored to the membrane via a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol glycolipid anchor. During metacyclogenesis there is (i) an approximate doubling in the average number of repeat units per molecule from 14 to 30, (ii) a pronounced decrease in the relative abundance of repeat units with side chains of beta Gal or Gal beta 1-3Gal beta 1-, and a corresponding increase in repeat units with either no side chains or with side chains of Arap alpha 1-2 Gal beta 1- and (iii) a decrease in the frequency with which the glycolipid anchor is substituted with a single glucose alpha 1-phosphate residue. While the majority of the LPG phosphoglycan chains are capped with the neutral disaccharide, Man alpha 1-2Man, a significant minority of the chains appeared to terminate in non-phosphorylated repeat units and may represent incompletely capped species. We suggest that the developmental modification of LPG may be important in modulating the binding of promastigotes to receptors in the sandfly midgut and on human macrophages and in increasing the resistance of metacyclic promastigotes to complement-mediated lysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center