Development and dynamics of regional specialization within the syncytial epidermis of the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta

Jon M. Holy, John A. Oaks, Marcia Mika-Grieve, Robert Grieve

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The epidermis of the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta is a highly organized syncytium, composed of an outer layer of continuous cytoplasm, or ectocytoplasm, and an inner layer of nucleated cell bodies, or perikarya. The perikarya are in direct cytoplasmic continuity with the ectocytoplasm via narrow plasmalemma-bound bridges called internuncial process. Although distinct structural and functional differences are apparent between ectocytoplasm and perikarya, all of the perikarya along the body of the cestode are morphologically similar, as are all regions of ectocytoplasm. However, immunocytochemically distinct subpopulations of perikarya and regionally defined areas of ectocytoplasm were identified along the tapeworm strobila by the use of monoclonal antibodies raised against a preparation of isolated tegument. The different types of perikarya and the regionally specialized areas of ectocytoplasm were organized in a topographically precise manner along the body of the parasite. Examination of labeling patterns after colchicine treatment suggests that different types of perikarya are specialized for biosynthesis of specific tegumental molecules and for turnover or recycling of tegumental material. Furthermore, it appears that a 52 kDa polypeptide synthesized by one population of perikarya is transported through the syncytium and ultimately resorbed by a different population of tegumental perikarya. These data suggest that the syncytial epidermis of parasitic platyhelminthes exhibits a more complex organization of function than previously appreciated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1991


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