Lectins Discriminate between Pathogenic and Nonpathogenic South American Trypanosomes

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  • Tufts University School of Medicine, Division of Geographic Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02111

Cell surface carbohydrates of Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma rangeli, and Trypanosoma conorhini were analyzed by a micro-agglutination assay employing 27 highly purified lectins and by binding assays using various 125I-labeled lectins. The following seven lectins discriminated between the trypanosomes: 1) tomato lectin (an N-acetyl-D-glucosamine-binding protein), both in purified form and as crude tomato juice; 2) Bauhinea purpurea and Sophora japonica lectins (both N-acetyl-D-galactosamine-binding proteins), which selectively agglutinated T. cruzi; 3) Vicia villosa (an N-acetyl-D-galactosamine-binding protein) which was specific for T. rangeli; 4) peanut lectin (a D-galactose-binding protein) both in purified form and as crude saline extract; and 5) Ulex europaeus and Lotus tetragonolobus (both L-fucose-binding proteins) lectins which reacted only with T. conorhini. Binding studies with 125I-labeled lectins were performed to find whether unagglutinated cells of the three different species of trypanosomes might have receptors for these lectins, in which case absence of agglutination could be due to a peculiar arrangement of the receptors. These assays essentially confirmed the agglutination experiments.

Author Notes

Present address: Institute of Tropical Medicine of Manaus, Amazona, Brazil.