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Exp Parasitol. 1991 Feb;72(2):191-204.

The comparative fine structure and surface glycoconjugate expression of three life stages of Leishmania major.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The cellular ultrastructure and surface glycoconjugate expression of three life stages of Leishmania major were compared. Noninfective logarithmic phase promastigotes (LP) are immature cells bearing a thin cell coat, short flagellum, small and empty flagellar pocket, and a loose cytoplasm filled with profiles of ER and large Golgi complex. LP also contain subpopulations of maturing cells containing less ER and Golgi and synthesizing cytoplasmic granules of different size, number, and electron-density. Infective or metacyclic promastigotes (MP) are fully differentiated nondividing forms with a thickened, prominent cell coat, long flagellum, distended flagellar pocket filled with secretory material, and few cytoplasmic organelles other than abundant electron-dense granules. Tissue amastigotes also contain electron-dense cytoplasmic granules, their flagellar pockets are also enlarged and contain secretory material, but they lack a discernable cell coat. Immunogold labeling of GP63 on the cell surface was extensive only on amastigotes. Promastigote GP63 appeared to be masked by the presence of a densely packed lipophosphoglycan (LPG) coat which was extensively labeled on the entire surface of MP and LP. An elongated, developmentally modified form of LPG was abundantly labeled only on MP. LPG was poorly labeled on amastigotes, arguing that the promastigote cell coat is a stage-specific structure which is lost during intracellular transformation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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