Phosphocholine-containing, zwitterionic glycosphingolipids of adult Onchocerca volvulus as highly conserved antigenic structures of parasitic nematodes

Biochem J. 2000 Jun 1;348 Pt 2(Pt 2):417-23.


Human Onchocerca volvulus infection sera were found to recognize zwitterionic glycolipids of O. volvulus and to cross-react with those of other parasitic nematodes (Ascaris suum, Setaria digitata and Litomosoides sigmodontis). By the use of an epitope-specific monoclonal antibody, zwitterionic glycolipids of all these nematode species were observed to contain the antigenic determinant phosphocholine. A hyperimmune serum specific for arthro-series glycolipid structures reacted with the various neutral glycolipids of all these nematodes, which demonstrated that their oligosaccharide moieties belonged to the arthro-series of protostomial glycolipids. These results indicated that arthro-series glycosphingolipids carrying, in part, phosphocholine substituents, represent highly conserved, antigenic glycolipid markers of parasitic nematodes. Three glycolipid components of the O. volvulus zwitterionic fraction were structurally characterized by matrix-assisted laser-desorption/ionization time-of-flight MS, methylation analysis and exoglycosidase treatment. Their chemical structures were elucidated to be phosphocholine-6GlcNAc(beta1-3)Man(beta1-4)Glc(1-1)ceramide, GalNAc(beta1-4)[phosphocholine-6]GlcNAc(beta1-3)Man(beta1-4)Glc(1-1) ceramide and Gal(alpha1-3)GalNAc(beta1-4)[phosphocholine-6]GlcNAc(beta1-3)Man(beta 1-4)Glc(1-1)ceramide for the zwitterionic ceramide tri-, tetra- and penta-hexosides respectively. The ceramide composition was found to be dominated by 2-hydroxylated docosanoic (C(22h:0)), tricosanoic (C(23h:0)) and tetracosanoic (C(24h:0)) acids, and C(17) sphingosine (C(d17:1)) (where (h) is hydroxylated and (d) is dihydroxylated).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / chemistry*
  • Ascaris suum / chemistry
  • Ascaris suum / immunology
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Cross Reactions
  • Filarioidea / chemistry
  • Filarioidea / immunology
  • Glycolipids / chemistry*
  • Glycolipids / immunology
  • Glycolipids / isolation & purification
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • Glycosphingolipids / chemistry*
  • Glycosphingolipids / immunology
  • Glycosphingolipids / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Onchocerca volvulus / chemistry
  • Onchocerca volvulus / immunology*
  • Phosphorylcholine / analysis*
  • Setaria Nematode / chemistry
  • Setaria Nematode / immunology
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Carbohydrates
  • Glycolipids
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Glycoside Hydrolases