Rat and human colonic mucin glycoproteins bind to the Gal/GalNAc adherence lectin on the surface of Entamoeba histolytica in vitro, thus inhibiting the organism from adhering to and lysing the target cells. Human colonic mucin glycoproteins were isolated by Sepharose 4B gel filtration chromatography, they were proteolytically degraded with trypsin, pronase, and papain, and the glycoprotein fractions were reisolated by Sephacryl S-200 gel filtration chromatography. Binding of the mucin glycoprotein fractions to amoebae was quantitated by the inhibition of adherence of Chinese hamster ovary cells to the surface of the amoebae. Trypsin and papain digests caused 40 and 20% reductions, respectively, in the excluded fractions (void volume) that contained all the carbohydrates; pronase digests resulted in extensive degradation of the mucin glycoprotein with the carbohydrate fractions eluting over 40% of the gel bed volume. 3H-labelled mucin glycoprotein and sodium dodecylsulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis confirmed the presence of the high molecular weight carbohydrate-rich glycoproteins with no subunits in the excluded fractions and the absence of sugars in the included peptides. Only the high molecular weight carbohydrate-containing fractions bind amoebae and inhibit amoebic adherence to Chinese hamster ovary cells. The trypsin digested mucins in the excluded volume were more efficient than the native undigested mucins in binding amoebae. The carbohydrate-containing fractions of the pronase digests were the least effective in binding amoebae and inhibiting adherence of Chinese hamster ovary cells. This suggests that proteolytically-degraded colonic mucins that are glycosylated, as well as the undegraded native mucin glycoproteins of the gut, may play a protective role in binding to amoebae, thus preventing contact of amoebae with mucosal epithelial cells and potential invasion.
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