First Advisor

David T. Clark

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Extracellular matrix proteins, Cells, Trichinella spiralis



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 67 p.)


The infectious first-stage larvae of the nematode Trichinella spiralis is an intracellular parasite of altered skeletal muscle. Invasion of the muscle cell initiates a series of morphological changes in the host muscle cell which ultimately results in a specialized unit called the nurse cell. The completed nurse cell consists of a collagenous capsule, matrix of altered sarcoplasm, and a circulatory rete. The purpose of this study was to determine the types of collagen present in the nurse cell capsule. Additionally, the presence of the gl ycoproteins, laminin and tenascin was determined. This study also sought to demonstrate the location of the selected extracellular matrix proteins within the capsule. Nurse cells were isolated from infected host muscle by sequential protease treatment with pronase, collagenase, and hyaluronidase. Nurse cells were digested with pepsin to produce characteristic pepsin-resistant triple helical fragments of collagen. The nurse cellpepsin digest was characterized by SDS-page, under reduced and nonreduced conditions, with type VI collagen and the ala2a3 chains of type XI collagen. Frozen tissue sections of infected and non-infected rat diaphragms were screened with specific polyclonal antibodies against types I, m, IV, V/Xl, and VI collagen, laminin, and tenascin. Indirect immunofluorescence using FITC secondary antibodies was used to locate the protein in the capsule and host tissue. SDS-page of the nurse cell-pepsin digest produced an electrophoretic pattern of resistant fragments characteristic for types I, III, IV, V, and VI collagen. Additionally, fragments migrated with an apparent molecular weight expected for pepsin resistant fragments of laminin. Indirect immunofluorescence showed types I, III, IV, and VI collagen, and laminin were distributed throughout the capsule. Serum No. 4876, which recognizes type V /XJ collagen, localized to the larvae. Tenascin failed to stain the nurse cell or host tissue. The results show that the capsule is a heterogenic structure with types I, III, IV, V, and VI collagens, and laminin distributed throughout the structure. The immunolocalization of Serum No. 4876 to the larvae suggests that a nematode collagen shares an amino acid sequence in common with mammalian type V /XI collagen.


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