Adhesion is an important virulence function for Entamoeba histolytica, the causative agent of amoebic dysentery. Lipid rafts, cholesterol-rich domains, function in compartmentalization of cellular processes. In E. histolytica, rafts participate in parasite–host cell interactions; however, their role in parasite–host extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions has not been explored. Disruption of rafts with a cholesterol extracting agent, methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD), resulted in inhibition of adhesion to collagen, and to a lesser extent, to fibronectin. Replenishment of cholesterol in MβCD-treated cells, using a lipoprotein–cholesterol concentrate, restored adhesion to collagen. Confocal microscopy revealed enrichment of rafts at parasite–ECM interfaces. A raft-resident adhesin, the galactose/N-acetylgalactosamine-inhibitable lectin, mediates interaction to host cells by binding to galactose or N-acetylgalactosamine moieties on host glycoproteins. In this study, galactose inhibited adhesion to collagen, but not to fibronectin. Together these data suggest that rafts participate in E. histolytica–ECM interactions and that raft-associated Gal/GalNAc lectin may serve as a collagen receptor.
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