Cyst walls of Entamoeba and Giardia protect them from environmental insults, stomach acids, and intestinal proteases. Each cyst wall contains a sugar homopolymer: chitin in Entamoeba and a unique N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) homopolymer in Giardia. Entamoeba cyst wall proteins include Jacob lectins (carbohydrate-binding proteins) that crosslink chitin, chitinases that degrade chitin, and Jessie lectins that make walls impermeable. Giardia cyst wall proteins are also lectins that bind fibrils of the GalNAc homopolymer. Although many of the details remain to be determined for the cyst wall of Giardia, current data suggest a relatively simple fibril and lectin model for the Entamoeba cyst wall.
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