Image of the Day: Amoeba Nibbles

A pathogenic amoeba species ingests parts of human cells and steals human cell membrane proteins to display on its own surface.

Chia-Yi Hou
May 2, 2019
Amoebae of the species Entamoeba histolytica (green) attack human cells (blue) and display human proteins (red) on their surfaces.

The amoeba Entamoeba histolyticakills human cells through trogocytosis, or a sort of cell nibbling, where the amoeba bites off and ingests pieces of the human cells. Researchers report that the amoeba use this process to acquire and display human cell membrane proteins on its own cell surface in research published in mBio this week (April 30). 

“We’re very excited about how this ties into amoebic infection and into broader themes in cell biology,” says coauthor Katherine Ralston of University of California Davis in a press release.

H.W. Miller et al., “Trogocytosis by Entamoeba histolyticamediates acquisition and display of human cell membrane proteins and evasion of lysis by human serum,” mBio, doi:10.1128/mBio.00068-19, 2019.