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A neuraminidase from Trypanosoma cruzi removes sialic acid from the surface of mammalian myocardial and endothelial cells.

By P Libby, J Alroy and M E Pereira


Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagasic heart disease, a major public health problem in Latin America. The mechanism of interaction of this protozooan parasite with host cells is poorly understood. We recently found that the infective trypomastigote form a T. cruzi exhibits neuraminidase activity and can desialylate mammalian erythrocytes. However, it is not known if T. cruzi can also modify the surfaces of cardiovascular cells that are directly involved in the most important clinical manifestations of this disease. Accordingly, this study determined whether T. cruzi can remove sialic acid from cultured rat myocardial or human vascular endothelial cells. Sialic acid was labeled metabolically with the precursor 3H-N-acetyl-D-mannosamine. Soluble neuraminidase, isolated from intact T. cruzi trypomastigotes, caused significant release of labeled material from myocardial cells (e.g., 2,174 +/- 27 dpm/h vs. spontaneous release of 306 +/- 30 dpm/h, n = 4, P less than 0.001). Chromatographic analysis showed that the bulk of the radioactivity released by T. cruzi neuraminidase was sialic acid. Intact T. cruzi trypomastigotes also released sialic acid from metabolically labeled myocardial cells in a concentration-dependent manner. In contrast, a noninfective form of T. cruzi, the amastigote, did not desialylate these cells. Galactose oxidase labeling demonstrated newly desialylated glycoproteins on the surface of myocardial cells treated with T. cruzi neuraminidase. Desialylation of myocardial cells was confirmed histochemically by the appearance of binding sites for peanut agglutinin, a lectin that binds to complex oligosaccharide moieties after removal of the terminal sialyl residue. T. cruzi neuraminidase also removed sialic acid from adult human saphenous vein endothelial cells, as determined by both histochemical and metabolic labeling studies. Thus, infective forms of T. cruzi can chemically modify the surfaces of myocardial and vascular endothelial cells by desialylation. This alteration may play a role in the initial interaction of this parasite with these important target cells of the host cardiovascular system

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1986
DOI identifier: 10.1172/jci112266
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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