Structure of the lipophosphoglycan from Leishmania major

Malcolm J. McConville, Jane E. Thomas-Oates, Michael A. J. Ferguson, Steven W. Homans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    207 Citations (Scopus)


    The major cell surface glycoconjugate of the parasitic protozoan Leishmania major is a heterogeneous lipophosphoglycan. It has a tripartite structure, consisting of a phosphoglycan (Mr 5,000-40,000), a variably phosphorylated hexasaccharide glycan core, and a lysoalkylphosphatidylinositol (lysoalkyl-PI) lipid anchor. The structures of the phosphoglycan and the hexasaccharide core were determined by monosaccharide analysis, methylation analysis, fast atom bombardment-mass spectrometry, one- and two-dimensional 500-MHz (correlated spectroscopy (COSY), homonuclear Hartmann-Hahn spectroscopy (HOHAHA)) 1H NMR spectroscopy, and exoglycosidase digestions. The phosphoglycan consists of eight types of phosphorylated oligosaccharide repeats which have the general structure, [PO4-6Galp(3R)(ß1-4)Manpa1-]n where R = H, Galp(ß1-3), Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3), Arap(a1-2)Galp(ß1-3), Glcp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3), Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3), Arap(a1-2)Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3), or Arap(a1-2)Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3)Galp(ß1-3), and where all the monosaccharides, including arabinose, are in the D-configuration. The average number of repeat units/molecule (n) is 27. Data are presented which suggest that the nonreducing terminus of the phosphoglycan is capped exclusively with the neutral disaccharide Manp(a1-2)Manpa1-. The structure of the glycan core was determined to be, ±PO4(6)PO4-6Galp(a1-6)Galp(a1-3)Galf(ß1-3)Manp(a1-3)Manp(a1- 4)GlcNp(a1-6)myo-inositol where approximately 60% of the mannose residues distal to the glucosamine are phosphorylated and where the inositol is part of the lysoalkyl-PI lipid moiety containing predominantly 24:0 and 26:0 alkyl chains. The unusual galactofuranose residue is in the ß-configuration, correcting a previous report where this residue was identified as aGalf. Although most of the phosphorylated repeat units are attached to the terminal galactose 6-phosphate of the core to form a linear lipophosphoglycan (LPG) molecule, some of the mannose 6-phosphate residues may also be substituted to form a Y-shaped molecule. The L. major LPG is more complex than the previously characterized LPG from Leishmania donovani, although both LPGs have the same repeating backbone structure and glycolipid anchor. Finally we show that the LPG anchor is structurally related to the major glycolipid species of L. major, indicating that some of these glycolipids may have a function as precursors to LPG.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19611-19623
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
    Issue number32
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 1990


    Dive into the research topics of 'Structure of the lipophosphoglycan from Leishmania major'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this