Flow cytometric analysis of circulating blood cells (hemocytes) of Biomphalaria glabrata, molluscan intermediate host of Schistosoma mansoni, revealed the presence of 2 overlapping hemocyte subpopulations, designated R1 and R2. R1 hemocytes are characterized by their smaller size, reduced granularity, and the presence of the BGH1 surface epitope, whereas R2 cells are larger, more granulated, and generally lack the BGH1 cell marker. Both hemocyte subpopulations bound fluorescent dye (Oregon Green)-conjugated excretory–secretory glycoproteins (fESPs), although the specific fESP binding signal (geometric mean value), after correction for cellular autofluorescence, was greater in the R1 hemocyte subpopulation compared to that of the R2 subset. Partial inhibition of fESP binding to hemocytes consistently was achieved using various glycoconjugates (mucin, asialo-mucin, asialo-fetuin, heparin) and polysaccharides (fucoidan, dextran sulfate 8000), suggesting the involvement of hemocyte carbohydrate-binding receptors (CBRs) in reactions with ESP-associated glycans. Although sulfation of carbohydrate ligands contributed significantly to ESP blocking activity of some inhibitory polysaccharides and heparin, other sulfated proteoglycans (chondroitins A and B, heparan sulfate) were noninhibitory, indicating that charge alone was not solely responsible for the observed inhibition of hemocyte binding by fESPs. A similar blocking effect by desialylated glycoproteins (asialo-mucin, asialo-fetuin) further supports the contention that ESP–hemocyte interactions are mediated primarily through CBRs. The glycoconjugate inhibitors of ESP binding were only partially effective over a range of concentrations and their glycan moieties (oligosaccharides or long-chain polymers) comprised a diversity of major sugar groups, suggesting that hemocyte CBRs and S. mansoni larval ESPs likely represent a multiple receptor-ligand system. Previously reported findings of differential effects of ESPs on a variety of in vitro hemocyte functions are consistent with such a hypothesis.

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