Acanthamoebal surface properties and the modulation of phagocytosis

  • Edward A.G. Elloway

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The surface nature of Acanthamoeba trophozoites and cysts was investigated with respect to cell surface charge, hydrophobicity and surface carbohydrate composition. Particulate microelectrophoresis revealed a marked negative charge for both morphological forms, though less for cyst surfaces. Hydrophobicity was determined by adhesion to n-hexadecane and indicated a relatively low hydrophobic nature of both forms, though less so for cysts. Surface carbohydrate composition was studied by the use of fluorescent lectins and flow cytometry, using a ligand-receptor approach for further in depth analysis of binding of particular lectins. These studies showed trophozoite and cyst surfaces to be rich in N-acetylglucosamine, N-acteylneuraminic acid, mannose and glucose, with the addition of N-acetylgalactosamine on cysts.
The importance of such surface properties was investigated with respect to phagocytosis of polystyrene latex microspheres, of different surface types and size. Investigations into the optimum conditions of uptake of beads indicated a preference for a medium devoid of nutrients, such as saline, though temperature was not a factor. An amoebal predilection for beads of lower charge and greater hydrophobicity was demonstrated. Furthermore, a preference for the largest bead size used (2.0 m) was observed. The influence of either Con A or mannose or glucose on bead association was apparently limited.
The fate of foreign DNA ingested by Acanthamoeba appeared to indicate that such DNA was destroyed, as it could not be detected following extraction procedures and PCR amplification.
Date of AwardJan 2002
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStephen N Smith (Supervisor)


  • Acanthamoebal surface properties
  • modulation of phagocytosis

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