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Evidence for Adhesive Activity of the Ventrolateral Flange in Giardia lamblia

International Society of Protistologists
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Abstract Giardia lamblia is an intestinal protozoan that inhabits the intestinal tract of man and other mammals by attaching to the mucosal surface via the contractile activity of an attachment organelle called the ventral adhesive disk. We have investigated the presence of other attachment mechanisms in G. lamblia trophozoites by using microfabricated substrates that sterically interfere with formation of the hypothesized “negative pressure” under the ventral adhesive disk that would mediate attachment to a substratum. Pillars measuring 1 μm high and 2 μm in diam. were constructed in microarrays with spacings smaller than the diameter of the ventral adhesive disk. Using high resolution field emission scanning electron microscopy, the attachment of trophozoites to the tops of pillars in the microfabricated substrates was investigated. Firm adhesion of trophozoites was observed to be mediated by direct attachment of the ventrolateral flange membrane to the tops of microfabricated pillars. Attachment to microfabricated surfaces was 16% of that observed for attachment mediated by the ventral adhesive disk (4.4 ± 1.5 cells/100 μ2 micropillar surface vs. 25.9 ± 3.1 cells/100 μ2 flat substrate, p < 0.0001) This is the first report of trophozoite adhesion to a substratum by a mechanism other than the direct attachment of the ventral adhesive disk, and provides experimental evidence that the ventrolateral flange may play a role in trophozoite adhesion. A hypothesis is presented describing how the adhesive nature of the ventrolateral flange might be involved in normal attachment of G. lamblia trophozoites to a substratum.

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