Ultrastructure of the attachment of Cryptosporidium sporozoites to tissue culture cells

Parasitol Res. 1988;74(6):531-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00531630.


The attachment of Cryptosporidium sporozoites to Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells was examined using transmission electron microscopy. As the anterior end of the sporozoite came into close proximity to the MDCK cell, the host cell membrane evaginated around the sporozoite, forming a parasitophorous vacuole. A dense band formed below the host cell membrane at the site nearest to the conoid. Variably electron-dense material was apparently released from the conoid and a large membrane-bound vacuole was formed in the anterior end of the sporozoite, displacing the typical anterior electron-dense organelles (rhoptries and micronemes). The outer membrane of the sporozoite pellicle then fused with the host cell membrane immediately adjacent to the conoid. The membrane surrounding the anterior vacuole was also fused with the common host-parasite membrane, forming Y-shaped membrane junctions where each limb was a unit membrane. A direct link was thereby established between the anterior vacuole of the sporozoite and the host cell cytoplasm. The anterior vacuole membrane separating the sporozoite and the host cell cytoplasm was the precursor of the feeder organelle.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line
  • Coccidia / ultrastructure*
  • Cryptosporidium / cytology
  • Cryptosporidium / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron