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J Parasitol. 1997 Apr;83(2):234-41.

A mechanism of acquired resistance to complement-mediated lysis by Entamoeba histolytica.

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Departamento de Microbiologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., México.


Some Entamoeba histolytica strains resist complement-mediated lysis by serum. Susceptible and resistant strains activate the complement system equivalently, but resistant amebas evade killing by membrane attack complexes. Our objective was to determine the mechanism by which trophozoites of E. histolytica resist lysis by human serum. Amebas were made resistant to lysis by incubation with increasing concentrations of normal human serum. The possibility that resistant cells ingest membrane attack complexes was explored by subcellular fractionation of susceptible and resistant trophozoites treated with sublytic concentrations of human serum containing radiolabeled C9. In both cases, most of the label was in the fractions containing plasma membrane. The susceptible strain consistently showed more label associated with these fractions than the resistant strain. Thus, the possibility that the membrane attack complexes were released to the medium was explored. Both resistant and susceptible trophozoites release to the medium similar amounts of material excluded by Sepharose CL-2B in the presence or absence of normal human serum. Labeled C9 elutes together with the main bulk of proteins from the medium: this indicates that it is not in vesicles or high molecular weight aggregates. Coincubation of susceptible amebas with lysates of resistant trophozoites confers resistance to susceptible cells within 30 min. Resistance to lysis by serum can also be acquired by susceptible amebas after coincubation with lysates from human erythrocytes or after feeding them with whole human red blood cells. Resistant but not susceptible trophozoites show intense immunofluorescent staining on their surface with anti-human erythrocytic membrane antibody. These results suggest that amebas acquire resistance to lysis by serum by incorporating into their membranes complement regulatory proteins.

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