Trichomonas vaginalis causes the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection linked to increased risk of premature birth, cervical cancer and HIV. This study defines molecular domains of the parasite surface glycol-conjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG) with distinct functions in the host immunoinflammatory response. The ceramide phospho-inositol glycan core (CPI-GC) released by mild acid had Mr of ~8,700 Da determined by MALDI-TOF MS. Rha, GlcN, Gal and Xyl and small amounts of GalN and Glc were found in CPI-GC. N-acetyllactosamine repeats were identified by endo-β-galactosidase treatment followed by MALDI-MS and MS/MS and capLC/ESI-MS/MS analyses. Mild acid hydrolysis led to products rich in internal deoxyhexose residues. The CPI-GC induced chemokine production, NF-κB and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 activation in human cervicovaginal epithelial cells, but neither the released saccharide components nor the lipid-devoid LPG showed these activities. These results suggest a dominant role for CPI-GC in the pathogenic epithelial response to trichomoniasis.
Keywords: Trichomonad LPG, Mass spectrometry, Cytokines, NF-κB, ERK, Vaginal mucosal immunity