PloS one

Identification of unusual phospholipid fatty acyl compositions of Acanthamoeba castellanii.

PMID 25007336


Acanthamoeba are opportunistic protozoan pathogens that may lead to sight-threatening keratitis and fatal granulomatous encephalitis. The successful prognosis requires early diagnosis and differentiation of pathogenic Acanthamoeba followed by aggressive treatment regimen. The plasma membrane of Acanthamoeba consists of 25% phospholipids (PL). The presence of C20 and, recently reported, 28- and 30-carbon fatty acyl residues is characteristic of amoeba PL. A detailed knowledge about this unusual PL composition could help to differentiate Acanthamoeba from other parasites, e.g. bacteria and develop more efficient treatment strategies. Therefore, the detailed PL composition of Acanthamoeba castellanii was investigated by 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, thin-layer chromatography, gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Normal and reversed phase liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometric detection was used for detailed characterization of the fatty acyl composition of each detected PL. The most abundant fatty acyl residues in each PL class were octadecanoyl (18∶0), octadecenoyl (18∶1 Δ9) and hexadecanoyl (16∶0). However, some selected PLs contained also very long fatty acyl chains: the presence of 28- and 30-carbon fatty acyl residues was confirmed in phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine, phosphatidic acid and cardiolipin. The majority of these fatty acyl residues were also identified in PE that resulted in the following composition: 28∶1/20∶2, 30∶2/18∶1, 28∶0/20∶2, 30∶2/20∶4 and 30∶3/20∶3. The PL of amoebae are significantly different in comparison to other cells: we describe here for the first time unusual, very long chain fatty acids with Δ5-unsaturation (30∶35,21,24) and 30∶221,24 localized exclusively in specific phospholipid classes of A. castellanii protozoa that could serve as specific biomarkers for the presence of these microorganisms.