In this paper we report experiments demonstrating the presence of N-linked oligosaccharide structures in Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites, providing the first direct biochemical evidence that this sporozoan parasite is capable of synthesizing N-linked glycans. The tachyzoite surface glycoprotein gp23 was metabolically labelled with [3H]glucosamine and [3H]mannose. Gel-filtration chromatography on Bio-Gel P4 columns produced four radiolabelled N-linked glycopeptides which were sensitive to peptidase-N-glycanase F, but resistant to endoglycosidases H and F. Using chemical analysis and exoglycosidase digestions followed by Dionex-high-pH anion-exchange chromatography and size fractionation on Bio-Gel P4 we show that gp23 has N-linked glycans in the hybrid- or complex-type structure composed of N-acetylgalactosamine, N-acetylglucosamine and mannose and devoid of sialic acid and fucose residues. In addition, the sensitivity of glycopeptides from glycoprotein extracts to endoglycosidases H and F revealed the in vivo synthesis of oligomannose-type structures by T. gondii tachyzoites. We have extended these findings by demonstrating the ability of T. gondii microsomes to synthesize in vitro a glucosylated lipid-bound high-mannose structure (Glc3Man9GlcNAc2) that is assumed to be identical with the common precursor for N-glycosylation in eukaryotes.

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