We have examined the process of Theileria parva sporozoite entry into susceptible bovine lymphocytes and have begun to identify one of the possible molecular interactions involved in the process. The entry process involves a defined series of events and we have used a number of experimental procedures in combination with a method of quantitation to examine various aspects of this process. T. parva sporozoites are nonmotile organisms and the initial sporozoite-lymphocyte interaction is a chance event which can occur at 0-2 degrees C. All subsequent stages in the process are temperature dependent, require the participation of live intact sporozoites and host cells, and involve some cytochalasin-inhibitable rearrangement of the host cell surface membrane or cytoskeleton. Sporozoite entry can be inhibited by antibodies (mAbs) reactive with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules (IL-A 19, IL-A 88) and with beta 2 microglobulin (B1G6), whereas mAbs reactive with MHC class II molecules (IL-A 21, J 11), and a common panleucocyte surface antigen, (IL-A 87; a bovine equivalent of CD 11a) have no effect. These results indicate that MHC class I molecules play a role in the process of T. parva sporozoite entry into bovine lymphocytes although as yet the precise role has not been determined. Once internalized within the lymphocyte, a process that takes less than 3 min at 37 degrees C, the sporozoite rapidly escapes from the encapsulating host cell membrane; a process which occurs concurrently with the discharge of the contents of the sporozoite rhoptries and microspheres. The intracytoplasmic parasite is covered by a layer of sporozoite-derived fuzzy material to which host cell microtubules rapidly become associated.

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