Augmentation of microsporidia adherence and host cell infection by divalent cations

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Jul;260(2):143-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00288.x.


The infection process of intracellular opportunistic microsporidia involves the forcible eversion of a coiled hollow polar filament that pierces the host cell membrane, allowing the passage of infectious sporoplasm into the host cell cytoplasm. Although the exact mechanism of spore activation leading to polar filament discharge is unknown, we have shown that spore adherence to host cells, which is mediated by sulfated glycosaminoglycans, may play a vital role. When adherence is inhibited, host cell infection decreases, indicating a direct link between adherence and infection. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of exogenous divalent cations on microsporidia spore adherence and infection. Data generated using an in vitro spore adherence assay show that spore adherence is augmented by manganese (Mn2+) and magnesium (Mg2+), but not by calcium (Ca2+). However, each of the three divalent cations contributed to increased host cell infection when included in the assay. Finally, we show that Mn2+ and Mg2+ may activate a constituent on the microsporidia spore, not on the host cell, leading to higher infection efficiency. This report further supports recent evidence that spore adherence to the host cell surface is an important aspect of the microsporidial infection process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cations, Divalent / pharmacology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Encephalitozoon / pathogenicity
  • Encephalitozoon / physiology
  • Kidney / cytology*
  • Kidney / microbiology*
  • Microsporidia / drug effects
  • Microsporidia / pathogenicity*
  • Microsporidia / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Spores, Fungal / physiology
  • Vero Cells


  • Cations, Divalent