SUMMARY: Highly purified lectins with specificities for receptor molecules containing sialic acid, -acetylglucosamine (D-GlcNAc), -acetylgalactosamine (D-GalNAc), galactose (D-Gal), mannose-like residues (D-Man) or L-fucose (L-Fuc), were used to determine changes in cell-surface carbohydrates of the protozoal parasite during metacyclogenesis under chemically defined conditions. Of the D-GalNAc-binding lectins, BS-I selectively agglutinated metacyclic trypomastigotes, MPL was selective for replicating epimastigotes, whereas SBA strongly agglutinated all developmental stages of WGA (sialic acid and/or D-GlcNAc specific) was also reactive with differentiating epimastigotes and metacyclic trypomastigotes but displayed a higher reactivity with replicating epimastigote forms. A progressive decrease in agglutinating activity was observed for jacaline (specific for D-Gal) during the metacyclogenesis process; conversely, a progressive increase in affinity was observed for RCA-1 (D-Gal-specific), although the reactivity of other D-Gal-specific lectins (PNA and AxP) was strong at all developmental stages. All developmental stages of were agglutinated by Con A and lectins (specific for D-Man-like residues); however, they were unreactive with the L-fucose-binding lectins from and These agglutination assays were further confirmed by binding studies using I-labelled lectins. Neuraminidase activity was detected in supernatants of cell-free differentiation medium using the PNA hemagglutination test with human A erythrocytes. The most pronounced differences in lectin agglutination activity were observed between replicating and differentiating epimastigotes, suggesting that changes in the composition of accessible cell-surface carbohydrates precede the morphological transformation of epimastigotes into metacyclic trypomastigotes.


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