Cytoadherence is an important step for the invasion of a mammalian host cell by Trypanosoma cruzi. Cell surface macromolecules are implicated in the T. cruzi-cardiomyocyte recognition process. Therefore, we investigated the role of cell surface proteoglycans during this invasion process and analyzed their expression after the parasite infected the target cells. Treatment of trypomastigote forms of T. cruzi with soluble heparan sulfate resulted in a significant inhibition in successful invasion, while chondroitin sulfate had no effect. Removal of sulfated glycoconjugates from the cardiomyocyte surface using glycosaminoglycan (GAG) lyases demonstrated the specific binding of the parasites to heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Infection levels were reduced by 42% when the host cells were previously treated with heparitinase II. No changes were detected in the expression of GAGs infected cardiomyocytes even after 96 h of infection. Our data demonstrate that heparan sulfate proteoglycans, but not chondroitin sulfate, mediate both attachment and invasion of cardiomyocytes by T. cruzi.
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Vol. 50 • No. 2