The lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania parasites

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1992;46:65-94. doi: 10.1146/annurev.mi.46.100192.000433.


Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania have the remarkable ability to avoid destruction in the hostile environments they encounter throughout their life cycle. The molecular details of how these pathogens persevere with impunity under harsh conditions are beginning to be understood. The fact that Leishmania parasites have adapted to not only survive, but to proliferate probably is due to the protection conferred by specialized molecules on the parasite's cell surface. One such macromolecule is a novel glycoconjugate called lipophosphoglycan. This heterogeneous, lipid-containing polysaccharide is the major surface molecule of the parasite and has been implicated in a surprisingly large number of functions that may contribute the the parasite's pathogenesis. This review emphasizes the structural aspects of lipophosphoglycan and its possible functions and biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycosphingolipids / chemistry*
  • Leishmania / chemistry*


  • Glycosphingolipids
  • lipophosphonoglycan