Novel structural components of the ventral disc and lateral crest in Giardia intestinalis

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Dec;5(12):e1442. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001442. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


Giardia intestinalis is a ubiquitous parasitic protist that is the causative agent of giardiasis, one of the most common protozoan diarrheal diseases in the world. Giardia trophozoites attach to the intestinal epithelium using a specialized and elaborate microtubule structure, the ventral disc. Surrounding the ventral disc is a less characterized putatively contractile structure, the lateral crest, which forms a continuous perimeter seal with the substrate. A better understanding of ventral disc and lateral crest structure, conformational dynamics, and biogenesis is critical for understanding the mechanism of giardial attachment to the host. To determine the components comprising the ventral disc and lateral crest, we used shotgun proteomics to identify proteins in a preparation of isolated ventral discs. Candidate disc-associated proteins, or DAPs, were GFP-tagged using a ligation-independent high-throughput cloning method. Based on disc localization, we identified eighteen novel DAPs, which more than doubles the number of known disc-associated proteins. Ten of the novel DAPs are associated with the lateral crest or outer edge of the disc, and are the first confirmed components of this structure. Using Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) with representative novel DAP::GFP strains we found that the newly identified DAPs tested did not recover after photobleaching and are therefore structural components of the ventral disc or lateral crest. Functional analyses of the novel DAPs will be central toward understanding the mechanism of ventral disc-mediated attachment and the mechanism of disc biogenesis during cell division. Since attachment of Giardia to the intestine via the ventral disc is essential for pathogenesis, it is possible that some proteins comprising the disc could be potential drug targets if their loss or disruption interfered with disc biogenesis or function, preventing attachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Giardia lamblia / chemistry*
  • Giardia lamblia / physiology
  • Giardia lamblia / ultrastructure*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Protozoan Proteins / analysis*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Staining and Labeling / methods


  • Proteome
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins