Sweet secrets of a therapeutic worm: mass-spectrometric N-glycomic analysis of Trichuris suis

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016 Jan;408(2):461-71. doi: 10.1007/s00216-015-9154-8. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Trichuris suis, a nematode parasite of pigs, has attracted attention as its eggs have been administered to human patients as a potential therapy for inflammatory diseases. The immunomodulatory factors remain molecularly uncharacterised, but in vitro studies suggest that glycans on the parasite's excretory/secretory proteins may play a role. Using an off-line LC-MS approach in combination with chemical and enzymatic treatments, we have examined the N-linked oligosaccharides of T. suis. In addition to the paucimannosidic and oligomannosidic N-glycans typical of many invertebrates, a number of glycans carry N,N'-diacetyllactosamine (LacdiNAc) modified by fucose and/or phosphorylcholine. Such antennal epitopes are similar to ones previously associated with immunomodulation by helminths; here we propose phosphorylcholine modifications predominantly of terminal N-acetylgalactosamine but also of subterminal α1,3-fucosylated N-acetylglucosamine. Exact knowledge of the glycome of T. suis will facilitate more targeted studies on glycan receptors in the host as well as the engineering of cell lines to produce correctly glycosylated recombinant forms of candidate proteins for future studies on immunomodulation.

Keywords: Fucose; HPLC; Mass spectrometry; N-glycans; Nematode; Phosphorylcholine.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycomics / methods*
  • Glycosylation
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry*
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry*
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism
  • Trichuris / chemistry*
  • Trichuris / metabolism


  • Helminth Proteins
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Oligosaccharides