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Trogocytosis by Entamoeba histolytica Mediates Acquisition and Display of Human Cell Membrane Proteins and Evasion of Lysis by Human Serum.

  • Author(s): Miller, Hannah W
  • Suleiman, Rene L
  • Ralston, Katherine S
  • et al.

We previously showed that Entamoeba histolytica kills human cells through a mechanism that we termed trogocytosis ("trogo-" means "nibble"), due to its resemblance to trogocytosis in other organisms. In microbial eukaryotes like E. histolytica, trogocytosis is used to kill host cells. In multicellular eukaryotes, trogocytosis is used for cell killing and cell-cell communication in a variety of contexts. Thus, nibbling is an emerging theme in cell-cell interactions both within and between species. When trogocytosis occurs between mammalian immune cells, cell membrane proteins from the nibbled cell are acquired and displayed by the recipient cell. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that through trogocytosis, amoebae acquire and display human cell membrane proteins. We demonstrate that E. histolytica acquires and displays human cell membrane proteins through trogocytosis and that this leads to protection from lysis by human serum. Protection from human serum occurs only after amoebae have undergone trogocytosis of live cells but not phagocytosis of dead cells. Likewise, mutant amoebae defective in phagocytosis, but unaltered in their capacity to perform trogocytosis, are protected from human serum. Our studies are the first to reveal that amoebae can display human cell membrane proteins and suggest that the acquisition and display of membrane proteins is a general feature of trogocytosis. These studies have major implications for interactions between E. histolytica and the immune system and also reveal a novel strategy for immune evasion by a pathogen. Since other microbial eukaryotes use trogocytosis for cell killing, our findings may apply to the pathogenesis of other infections.IMPORTANCE Entamoeba histolytica causes amoebiasis, a potentially fatal diarrheal disease. Abscesses in organs such as the liver can occur when amoebae are able to breach the intestinal wall and travel through the bloodstream to other areas of the body. Therefore, understanding how E. histolytica evades immune detection is of great interest. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that E. histolytica acquires and displays human cell membrane proteins by taking "bites" of human cell material in a process named trogocytosis ("trogo-" means "nibble"), and that this allows amoebae to survive in human serum. Display of acquired proteins through trogocytosis has been previously characterized only in mammalian immune cells. Our study suggests that this is a more general feature of trogocytosis not restricted to immune cells and broadens our knowledge of eukaryotic biology. These findings also reveal a novel strategy for immune evasion by a pathogen and may apply to the pathogenesis of other infections.

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