Using an axenic encystation system in vitro, we examined the effect of wortmannin, a potent inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), which is a signaling molecule responsible for numerous cellular responses, on the encystation of Entamoeba invadens. Wortmannin inhibited both encystation and growth of E. invadens strain IP-1 in a dose-dependent manner, the former being more resistant to the drug than the latter. There was little decrease in the number of trophozoites after 3 days of culture in encystation medium containing wortmannin; and the cells remained motile, suggesting that the inhibitory effect of the drug on encystation was not due to its toxic effect on trophozoites. The addition of wortmannin after the induction of encystation was also inhibitory for encystation. Trophozoites incubated for 1 day in encystation medium with wortmannin did not encyst after removal of the drug, suggesting that the drug effect was not reversible in encystation medium. In contrast, trophozoites cultured in growth medium with wortmannin did encyst after their transfer to encystation medium without the drug. Encystation with wortmannin was more strongly inhibited among trophozoites grown in the presence of the drug than among those grown in the absence of the drug. The process of cyst maturation was slightly affected by wortmannin. These results suggest a possible role for PI 3-kinase in the signaling involved in the encystation of E. invadens.
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