Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS

Membrane-shed vesicles from the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis: characterization and their association with cell interaction.

PMID 29222644


Trichomonas vaginalis is a common sexually transmitted parasite that colonizes the human urogenital tract, where it remains extracellular and adheres to epithelial cells. Infections range from asymptomatic to highly inflammatory, depending on the host and the parasite strain. Despite the serious consequences associated with trichomoniasis disease, little is known about parasite or host factors involved in attachment of the parasite-to-host epithelial cells. Here, we report the identification of microvesicle-like structures (MVs) released by T. vaginalis. MVs are considered universal transport vehicles for intercellular communication as they can incorporate peptides, proteins, lipids, miRNA, and mRNA, all of which can be transferred to target cells through receptor-ligand interactions, fusion with the cell membrane, and delivery of a functional cargo to the cytoplasm of the target cell. In the present study, we demonstrated that T. vaginalis release MVs from the plasma and the flagellar membranes of the parasite. We performed proteomic profiling of these structures demonstrating that they possess physical characteristics similar to mammalian extracellular vesicles and might be selectively charged with specific protein content. In addition, we demonstrated that viable T. vaginalis parasites release large vesicles (LVs), membrane structures larger than 1 µm that are able to interact with other parasites and with the host cell. Finally, we show that both populations of vesicles present on the surface of T vaginalis are induced in the presence of host cells, consistent with a role in modulating cell interactions.