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J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 1;280(13):12201-11. Epub 2005 Jan 13.

Structural characterization of NETNES, a novel glycoconjugate in Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigotes.

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  • 1Division of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Microbiology, University of Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom.


The unicellular stercorarian protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent of Chagas' disease. The epimastigote form of the parasite is covered in a dense coat of glycoinositol phospholipids and short glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored mucinlike molecules. Here, we describe the purification and structural characterization of NETNES, a relatively minor but unusually complex glycoprotein that coexists with these major surface components. The mature glycoprotein is only 13 amino acids in length, with the sequence AQENETNESGSID, and exists in two forms with either four or five post-translational modifications. These are either one or two asparagine-linked oligomannose glycans, two linear alpha-mannose glycans linked to serine residues via phosphodiester linkages, and a GPI membrane anchor attached to the C-terminal aspartic acid residue. The variety and density of post-translational modifications on an unusually small peptide core make NETNES a unique type of glycoprotein. The N-glycans are predominantly Manalpha1-6(Manalpha1-3) Manalpha1-6(Manalpha1-3)Manbeta1-4GlcNAcbeta1-4GlcNAcbeta1-Asn; the phosphate-linked glycans are a mixture of (Manalpha1-2)0-3Man1-P-Ser; and the GPI anchor has the structure Manalpha1-2(ethanolamine phosphate)Manalpha1-2Manalpha1-6Manalpha1-4(2-aminoethylphosphonate-6)GlcNalpha1-6-myo-inositol-1-P-3(sn-1-O-(C16:0)alkyl-2-O-(C16:0)acylglycerol). Four putative NETNES genes were found in the T. cruzi genome data base. These genes are predicted to encode 65-amino acid proteins with cleavable 26-amino acid N-terminal signal peptides and 26-amino acid C-terminal GPI addition signal peptides.

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