De Marco Verissimo C, Cwiklinski K, Nilsson J, Mirgorodskaya E, Jin C, Karlsson NG, Dalton JP
Mol. Cell Proteomics 22 (12) 100684 [2023-12-00; online 2023-11-21]
Fasciola hepatica is a global helminth parasite of humans and their livestock. The invasive stage of the parasite, the newly excysted juvenile (NEJs), relies on glycosylated excreted-secreted (ES) products and surface/somatic molecules to interact with host cells and tissues and to evade the host's immune responses, such as disarming complement and shedding bound antibody. While -omics technologies have generated extensive databases of NEJs' proteins and their expression, detailed knowledge of the glycosylation of proteins is still lacking. Here, we employed glycan, glycopeptide, and proteomic analyses to determine the glycan profile of proteins within the NEJs' somatic (Som) and ES extracts. These analyses characterized 123 NEJ glycoproteins, 71 of which are secreted proteins, and allowed us to map 356 glycopeptides and their associated 1690 N-glycan and 37 O-glycan forms to their respective proteins. We discovered abundant micro-heterogeneity in the glycosylation of individual glycosites and between different sites of multi-glycosylated proteins. The global heterogeneity across NEJs' glycoproteome was refined to 53 N-glycan and 16 O-glycan structures, ranging from highly truncated paucimannosidic structures to complex glycans carrying multiple phosphorylcholine (PC) residues, and included various unassigned structures due to unique linkages, particularly in pentosylated O-glycans. Such exclusive glycans decorate some well-known secreted molecules involved in host invasion, including cathepsin B and L peptidases, and a variety of membrane-bound glycoproteins, suggesting that they participate in host interactions. Our findings show that F. hepatica NEJs generate exceptional protein variability via glycosylation, suggesting that their molecular portfolio that communicates with the host is far more complex than previously anticipated by transcriptomic and proteomic analyses. This study opens many avenues to understand the glycan biology of F. hepatica throughout its life-stages, as well as other helminth parasites, and allows us to probe the glycosylation of individual NEJs proteins in the search for innovative diagnostics and vaccines against fascioliasis.