The strobilocercus stage of the cat tapeworm Taenia taeniaeformis is surrounded by a single syncytial sheet of cytoplasm called the tegument. The outer membrane of the tegument covers both the scolex/strobila (S/S) and the bladder portions of the strobilocercus, but only the S/S region is resistant to intestinal digestion. It has been suggested that the glycocalyx, the surface-exposed glycoconjugates of the outer membrane, may serve to insulate underlying surface membrane components from digestion. In this study, we used lectin binding to test the hypothesis that the glycocalyx of the S/S is different from that of the bladder and that this may serve as the resistance mechanism of the S/S to digestion. Biotin-labeled lectins and an avidin–glucose oxidase detection system were applied to whole strobilocerci and to 1-µm epon-araldite plastic-embedded sections. Lectins bound to either both regions of the strobilocerci, to the S/S regions only, or did not bind at all. The restriction of some glycoconjugates to the glycocalyx of the S/S region only is consistent with our hypothesis.
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