Parasite surface glycoconjugates are frequently involved in cellular recognition and colonization of the host. This study reports on the identification of Perkinsus marinus surface carbohydrates by flow cytometric analyses of fluorescein isothiocyanate–conjugated lectin binding. Lectin-binding specificity was confirmed by sugar inhibition and Kolmogorov–Smirnov statistics. Clear, measurable fluorescence peaks were discriminated, and no parasite autofluorescence was observed. Parasites (GTLA-5 and Perkinsus-1 strains) harvested during log and stationary phases of growth in a protein-free medium reacted strongly with concanavalin A and wheat germ agglutinin, which bind to glucose–mannose and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (GlcNAc) moieties, respectively. Both P. marinus strains bound with lower intensity to Maclura pomifera agglutinin, Bauhinia purpurea agglutinin, soybean agglutinin (N-acetyl-d-galactosamine–specific lectins), peanut agglutinin (PNA) (terminal galactose specific), and Griffonia simplicifolia II (GlcNAc specific). Only background fluorescence levels were detected with Ulex europaeus agglutinin I (l-fucose specific) and Limulus polyphemus agglutinin (sialic acid specific). The lectin-binding profiles were similar for the 2 strains except for a greater relative binding intensity of PNA for Perkinsus-1 and an overall greater lectin-binding capacity of Perkinsus-1 compared with GTLA-5. Growth stage comparisons revealed increased lectin-binding intensities during stationary phase compared with log phase of growth. This is the first report of the identification of surface glycoconjugates on a Perkinsus spp. by flow cytometry and the first to demonstrate that differential surface sugar expression is growth phase and strain dependent.

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