Adhesion forces and mechanics in mannose-mediated acanthamoeba interactions
The human pathogenic amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii (A. castellanii) causes severe diseases, including acanthamoeba keratitis and encephalitis. Pathogenicity arises from the killing of target-cells by an extracellular killing mechanism, where the crucial first step is the formation of a close contact between A. castellanii and the target-cell. This process is medi- ated by the glycocalix of the target-cell and mannose has been identified as key mediator. The aim of the present study was to carry out a detailed biophysical investigation of man- nose-mediated adhesion of A. castellanii using force spectroscopy on single trophozoites. In detail, we studied the interaction of a mannose-coated cantilever with an A. castellanii tro- phozoite, as mannose is the decisive part of the cellular glycocalix in mediating pathogenic- ity. We observed a clear increase of the force to initiate cantilever detachment from the trophozoite with increasing contact time. This increase is also associated with an increase in the work of detachment. Furthermore, we also analyzed single rupture events during the detachment process and found that single rupture processes are associated with mem- brane tether formation, suggesting that the cytoskeleton is not involved in mannose binding events during the first few seconds of contact. Our study provides an experimental and conceptual basis for measuring interactions between pathogens and target-cells at different levels of complexity and as a function of interaction time, thus leading to new insights into the biophysical mechanisms of parasite pathogenicity.