Publications by authors named "Ketty Soteriadou"

29 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Indirubin Analogues Inhibit Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 Short and Growth.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2019 06 24;63(6). Epub 2019 May 24.

Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece

The protozoan parasite is the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). The disease is fatal if it remains untreated, whereas most drug treatments are inadequate due to high toxicity, difficulties in administration, and low central nervous system penetration. glycogen synthase kinase 3 short (GSK3s) is essential for parasite survival and thus represents a potential drug target that could be exploited for HAT treatment. Indirubins, effective leishmanicidals, provide a versatile scaffold for the development of potent GSK3 inhibitors. Herein, we report on the screening of 69 indirubin analogues against bloodstream forms. Of these, 32 compounds had potent antitrypanosomal activity (half-maximal effective concentration = 0.050 to 3.2 μM) and good selectivity for the analogues over human HepG2 cells (range, 7.4- to over 641-fold). The majority of analogues were potent inhibitors of GSK3s, and correlation studies for an indirubin subset, namely, the 6-bromosubstituted 3'-oxime bearing an extra bulky substituent on the 3' oxime [(6-BIO-3'-bulky)-substituted indirubins], revealed a positive correlation between kinase inhibition and antitrypanosomal activity. Insights into this indirubin-GSK3s interaction were provided by structure-activity relationship studies. Comparison between 6-BIO-3'-bulky-substituted indirubin-treated parasites and parasites silenced for GSK3s by RNA interference suggested that the above-described compounds may target GSK3s To further understand the molecular basis of the growth arrest brought about by the inhibition or ablation of GSK3s, we investigated the intracellular localization of GSK3s. GSK3s was present in cytoskeletal structures, including the flagellum and basal body area. Overall, these results give insights into the mode of action of 6-BIO-3'-bulky-substituted indirubins that are promising hits for antitrypanosomal drug discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.02065-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535550PMC
June 2019

An inhibitor-driven study for enhancing the selectivity of indirubin derivatives towards leishmanial Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 over leishmanial cdc2-related protein kinase 3.

Parasit Vectors 2014 May 20;7:234. Epub 2014 May 20.

Laboratories of Pharmacognosy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Pharmacy, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis-Zografou, 15771 Athens, Greece.

Background: In search of new antiparasitic agents for overcoming the limitations of current leishmaniasis chemotherapy, we have previously shown that 6-bromoindirubin-3'-oxime (6BIO) and several other 6-substituted analogues of indirubin, a naturally occurring bis-indole present in mollusks and plants, displayed reverse selectivity from the respective mammalian kinases, targeting more potently the leishmanial Cyclin-Dependent Kinase-1 (CDK1) homologue [cdc2-related protein kinase 3 (LCRK3)] over leishmanial Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (LGSK-3). This reversal of selectivity in Leishmania parasites compared to mammalian cells makes the design of specific indirubin-based LGSK-3 inhibitors difficult. In this context, the identification of compounds bearing specific substitutions that shift indirubin inhibition towards LGSK-3, previously found to be a potential drug target, over LCRK3 is imperative for antileishmanial targeted drug discovery.

Methods: A new in-house indirubin library, composed of 35 compounds, initially designed to target mammalian kinases (CDKs, GSK-3), was tested against Leishmania donovani promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes using the Alamar blue assay. Indirubins with antileishmanial activity were tested against LGSK-3 and LCRK3 kinases, purified from homologous expression systems. Flow cytometry (FACS) was used to measure the DNA content for cell-cycle analysis and the mode of cell death. Comparative structural analysis of the involved kinases was then performed using the Szmap algorithm.

Results: We have identified 7 new indirubin analogues that are selective inhibitors of LGSK-3 over LCRK3. These new inhibitors were also found to display potent antileishmanial activity with GI50 values of <1.5 μΜ. Surprisingly, all the compounds that displayed enhanced selectivity towards LGSK-3, were 6BIO analogues bearing an additional 3'-bulky amino substitution, namely a piperazine or pyrrolidine ring. A comparative structural analysis of the two aforementioned leishmanial kinases was subsequently undertaken to explain and rationalize the selectivity trend determined by the in vitro binding assays. Interestingly, the latter analysis showed that selectivity could be correlated with differences in kinase solvation thermo dynamics induced by minor sequence variations of the otherwise highly similar ATP binding pockets.

Conclusions: In conclusion, 3'-bulky amino substituted 6-BIO derivatives, which demonstrate enhanced specificity towards LGSK-3, represent a new scaffold for targeted drug development to treat leishmaniasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-7-234DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039064PMC
May 2014

Genetic diversity and structure in Leishmania infantum populations from southeastern Europe revealed by microsatellite analysis.

Parasit Vectors 2013 Dec 5;6:342. Epub 2013 Dec 5.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Vasilissis Sofias Avenus, 11521, Athens, Greece.

Background: The dynamic re-emergence of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in south Europe and the northward shift to Leishmania-free European countries are well-documented. However, the epidemiology of VL due to Leishmania infantum in southeastern (SE) Europe and the Balkans is inadequately examined. Herein, we aim to re-evaluate and compare the population structure of L. infantum in SE and southwestern (SW) Europe.

Methods: Leishmania strains collected from humans and canines in Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and Croatia, were characterized by the K26-PCR assay and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE). Genetic diversity was assessed by multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) and MLM Types were analyzed by model- and distance- based algorithms to infer the population structure of 128 L. infantum strains.

Results: L. infantum MON-1 was found predominant in SE Europe, whilst 16.8% of strains were MON-98. Distinct genetic populations revealed clear differentiation between SE and SW European strains. Interestingly, Cypriot canine isolates were genetically isolated and formed a monophyletic group, suggesting the constitution of a clonal MON-1 population circulating among dogs. In contrast, two highly heterogeneous populations enclosed all MON-1 and MON-98 strains from the other SE European countries. Structure sub-clustering, phylogenetic and Splitstree analysis also revealed two distinct Croatian subpopulations. A mosaic of evolutionary effects resulted in consecutive sub-structuring, which indicated substantial differentiation and gene flow among strains of both zymodemes.

Conclusions: This is the first population genetic study of L. infantum in SE Europe and the Balkans. Our findings demonstrate the differentiation between SE and SW European strains; revealing the partition of Croatian strains between these populations and the genetic isolation of Cypriot strains. This mirrors the geographic position of Croatia located in central Europe and the natural isolation of the island of Cyprus. We have analysed the largest number of MON-98 strains so far. Our results indicate extensive gene flow, recombination and no differentiation between MON-1 and MON-98 zymodemes. No correlation either to host specificity or place and year of strain isolation was identified. Our findings may be associated with intensive host migration and common eco-epidemiological characteristics in these countries and give valuable insight into the dynamics of VL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-6-342DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029556PMC
December 2013

The loss of virulence of histone H1 overexpressing Leishmania donovani parasites is directly associated with a reduction of HSP83 rate of translation.

Mol Microbiol 2013 Jun 7;88(5):1015-31. Epub 2013 May 7.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Vas Sofias Ave., Athens, Greece.

Overexpression of Leishmania histone H1 (LeishH1) was previously found to cause a promastigote-to-amastigote differentiation handicap, deregulation of cell-cycle progression, and loss of parasite infectivity. The aim of this study was to identify changes in the proteome of LeishH1 overexpressing parasites associated with the avirulent phenotype observed. 2D-gel electrophoresis analysis revealed only a small protein subset of differentially expressed proteins in the LeishH1 overexpressing promastigotes. Among these was the chaperone HSP83, known for its protective role in Leishmania drug-induced apoptosis, which displayed lower translational rates. To investigate if the lower expression levels of HSP83 are associated with the differentiation handicap, we assayed the thermostability of parasites by subjecting them to heat-shock (25°C→37°C), a natural stress-factor occurring during stage differentiation. Heat-shock promoted apoptosis to a greater extent in the LeishH1 overexpressing parasites. Interestingly, these parasites were not only more sensitive to heat-shock but also to drug-induced [Sb(III)] cell-death. In addition, the restoration of HSP83 levels re-established drug resistance, and restored infectivity to LeishH1 overexpressing parasites in the murine J774 macrophage model. Overall, this study suggests that LeishH1 levels are critical for the parasite's stress-induced adaptation within the mammalian host, and highlights the cross-talk between pathways involved in drug resistance, apoptosis and virulence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mmi.12240DOI Listing
June 2013

Vaccination with Leishmania histone H1-pulsed dendritic cells confers protection in murine visceral leishmaniasis.

Vaccine 2012 Jul 13;30(34):5086-93. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Laboratory of Cellular Immunology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Vas. Sofias Ave., 115 21 Athens, Greece.

Visceral leishmaniasis is the most severe form of leishmaniases affecting millions of people worldwide often resulting in death despite optimal therapy. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of effective anti-infective vaccine(s). In the present study, we evaluated the prophylactic value of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DCs) pulsed with the Leishmania (L.) infantum histone H1. We developed fully mature BM-DCs characterized by enhanced capacity of IL-12 production after ex vivo pulsing with GST-LeishH1. Intravenous administration of these BM-DCs in naive BALB/c mice resulted in antigen-specific spleenocyte proliferation and IgG1 isotype antibody production and conferred protection against experimental challenge with L. infantum independently of CpG oligonucleotides (ODNs) co-administration. Protection was associated with a pronounced enhancement of parasite-specific IFNγ-producing cells and reduction of cells producing IL-10, whereas IL-4 production was comparable in protected and non-protected mice. The polarization of immune responses to Th1 type was further confirmed by the elevation of parasite-specific IgG2a/IgG1 ratio in protected mice. The above data indicate the immunostimulatory capacity of Leishmania histone H1 and further support its exploitation as a candidate protein for vaccine development against leishmaniasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.05.075DOI Listing
July 2012

Multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) of strains from Turkey and Cyprus reveals a novel monophyletic L. donovani sensu lato group.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2012 14;6(2):e1507. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece.

Background: New foci of human CL caused by strains of the Leishmania donovani (L. donovani) complex have been recently described in Cyprus and the Çukurova region in Turkey (L. infantum) situated 150 km north of Cyprus. Cypriot strains were typed by Multilocus Enzyme Electrophoresis (MLEE) using the Montpellier (MON) system as L. donovani zymodeme MON-37. However, multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) has shown that this zymodeme is paraphyletic; composed of distantly related genetic subgroups of different geographical origin. Consequently the origin of the Cypriot strains remained enigmatic.

Methodology/principal Findings: The Cypriot strains were compared with a set of Turkish isolates obtained from a CL patient and sand fly vectors in south-east Turkey (Çukurova region; CUK strains) and from a VL patient in the south-west (Kuşadasi; EP59 strain). These Turkish strains were initially analyzed using the K26-PCR assay that discriminates MON-1 strains by their amplicon size. In line with previous DNA-based data, the strains were inferred to the L. donovani complex and characterized as non MON-1. For these strains MLEE typing revealed two novel zymodemes; L. donovani MON-309 (CUK strains) and MON-308 (EP59). A population genetic analysis of the Turkish isolates was performed using 14 hyper-variable microsatellite loci. The genotypic profiles of 68 previously analyzed L. donovani complex strains from major endemic regions were included for comparison. Population structures were inferred by combination of bayesian model-based and distance-based approaches. MLMT placed the Turkish and Cypriot strains in a subclade of a newly discovered, genetically distinct L. infantum monophyletic group, suggesting that the Cypriot strains may originate from Turkey.

Conclusion: The discovery of a genetically distinct L. infantum monophyletic group in the south-eastern Mediterranean stresses the importance of species genetic characterization towards better understanding, monitoring and controlling the spread of leishmaniasis in this region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0001507DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279343PMC
June 2012

Trypanosomatid apoptosis: 'Apoptosis' without the canonical regulators.

Virulence 2011 May-Jun;2(3):253-6. Epub 2011 May 1.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece.

Apoptosis is a regulated process of cell death originally described in multicelullar organisms contributing to their development and functionality. There is now increasing experimental evidence that a similar form of cell death is operative in unicellular eukaryotes, including trypanosomatids of the genera Trypanosoma and Leishmania. The determination of ancestral executors and regulators of 'apoptosis' in these protozoa belonging to the most primitive eukaryotes that appeared on earth 1.5 billion years ago, provide an exciting challenge in the understanding of the evolution of apoptosis-regulating processes. A review of the present knowledge of trypanosomatid apoptosis points to the fact that these dying protozoa acquire common apoptotic morphological features as metazoan cells, although they lack many of the molecules accepted today as canonical apoptosis mediators (Bcl-2 family members, caspases, TNF related family of receptors). Herein, we discuss how the knowledge of regulators and executors of trypanosomatid apoptosis may provide answers to the gaps concerning the origin of apoptosis. The aim of this addendum is to emphasize the need for classifying the ancestral death program and to discuss how this relates to the complex death programs in multicellular lineages, with the hope to stimulate further enquiry and research into this area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/viru.2.3.16278DOI Listing
October 2011

Targeting essential pathways in trypanosomatids gives insights into protozoan mechanisms of cell death.

Parasit Vectors 2010 Nov 17;3:107. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas, Sofias Ave,, 11521 Athens, Greece.

Apoptosis is a normal component of the development and health of multicellular organisms. However, apoptosis is now considered a prerogative of unicellular organisms, including the trypanosomatids of the genera Trypanosoma spp. and Leishmania spp., causative agents of some of the most important neglected human diseases. Trypanosomatids show typical hallmarks of apoptosis, although they lack some of the key molecules contributing to this process in metazoans, like caspase genes, Bcl-2 family genes and the TNF-related family of receptors. Despite the lack of these molecules, trypanosomatids appear to have the basic machinery to commit suicide. The components of the apoptotic execution machinery of these parasites are slowly coming into light, by targeting essential processes and pathways with different apoptogenic agents and inhibitors. This review will be confined to the events known to drive trypanosomatid parasites to apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-3-107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136144PMC
November 2010

Leishmaniases and the Cyprus paradox.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2010 Mar;82(3):441-8

Veterinary Services of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus.

In Cyprus, leishmaniasis has been considered exclusively a veterinary problem. It was prevalent before 1945, and until its recent reemergence, it was nearly eradicated by 1996 as a consequence of the destruction of reservoir hosts and vectors. A survey carried out to provide an unbiased estimate of current transmission rates in dogs and humans showed a 9-fold increase in dog seroprevalence (reaching 14.9%) compared with 10 years ago. However, no human cases caused by Leishmania infantum were detected, although L. donovani cases were reported recently. The 62 strains isolated from dogs were typed as L. infantum MON-1 (98.4%), which is the predominating zymodeme in the Mediterranean region, and MON-98 (1.6%). The Phlebotomus species P. tobbi (vector of L. infantum in Cyprus), P. galilaeus, and P. papatasi were the predominant species captured. Two transmission cycles seem to run in parallel in Cyprus: in dogs with L. infantum and in humans with L. donovani.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.2010.09-0282DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829906PMC
March 2010

Leishmania donovani Ran-GTPase interacts at the nuclear rim with linker histone H1.

Biochem J 2009 Dec 10;424(3):367-74. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas. Sofias Ave., 11521 Athens, Greece.

Ran-GTPase regulates multiple cellular processes such as nucleocytoplasmic transport, mitotic spindle assembly, nuclear envelope assembly, cell-cycle progression and the mitotic checkpoint. The leishmanial Ran protein, in contrast with its mammalian counterpart which is predominately nucleoplasmic, is localized at the nuclear rim. The aim of the present study was to characterize the LdRan (Leishmania donovani Ran) orthologue with an emphasis on the Ran-histone association. LdRan was found to be developmentally regulated, expressed 3-fold less in the amastigote stage. LdRan overexpression caused a growth defect linked to a delayed S-phase progression in promastigotes as for its mammalian counterpart. We report for the first time that Ran interacts with a linker histone, histone H1, in vitro and that the two proteins co-localize at the parasite nuclear rim. Interaction of Ran with core histones H3 and H4, creating in metazoans a chromosomal Ran-GTP gradient important for mitotic spindle assembly, is speculative in Leishmania spp., not only because this parasite undergoes a closed mitosis, but also because the main localization of LdRan is different from that of core histone H3. Interaction of Ran with the leishmanial linker histone H1 (LeishH1) suggests that this association maybe involved in modulation of pathways other than those documented for the metazoan Ran-core histone association.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20090576DOI Listing
December 2009

Key role of the 3' untranslated region in the cell cycle regulated expression of the Leishmania infantum histone H2A genes: minor synergistic effect of the 5' untranslated region.

BMC Mol Biol 2009 May 21;10:48. Epub 2009 May 21.

Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Departamento de Biología Molecular, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, CSIC-UAM, Nicolás Cabrera 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Background: Histone synthesis in Leishmania is tightly coupled to DNA replication by a post-transcriptional mechanism operating at the level of translation.

Results: In this work we have analyzed the implication of the 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTR) in the cell cycle regulated expression of the histone H2A in Leishmania infantum. For that purpose, L. infantum promastigotes were stably transfected with different plasmid constructs in which the CAT coding region used as a reporter was flanked by the 5' and 3' UTR regions of the different H2A genes. We report that in spite of their sequence differences, histone H2A 5' and 3' UTRs conferred a cell cycle dependent pattern of expression on the CAT reporter since de novo synthesis of CAT increased when parasites enter the S phase. Using one established L. infantum cell line we showed that CAT expression is controlled by the same regulatory events that control the endogenous histone gene expression. Thus, although we did not detect changes in the level of CAT mRNAs during cell cycle progression, a drastic change in the polysome profiles of CAT mRNAs was observed during the progression from G1 to S phase. In the S phase CAT mRNAs were on polyribosomal fractions, but in the G1 phase the association of CAT transcripts with ribosomes was impaired. Furthermore, it was determined that the addition of just the H2A 3' UTR to the CAT reporter gene is sufficient to achieve a similar pattern of post-transcriptional regulation indicating that this region contains the major regulatory sequences involved in the cell cycle dependent expression of the H2A genes. On the other hand, although CAT transcripts bearing the H2A 5' alone were translated both in the G1 and S phase, higher percentages of transcripts were detected on polyribosomes in the S phase correlating with an increase in the de novo synthesis of CAT. Thus, it can be concluded that this region also contributes, although to a minor extent than the 3' UTR, in the enhancement of translation in the S phase relative to the G1 phase.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that both, the 5' and the 3' UTRs contain sequence elements that contribute to the cell cycle expression of L. infantum H2A. The 3' UTR region is essential for cell cycle dependent translation of the L. infantum H2A transcripts whereas the 5' UTR has a minor contribution in their S phase dependent translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2199-10-48DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2691400PMC
May 2009

6-Br-5methylindirubin-3'oxime (5-Me-6-BIO) targeting the leishmanial glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) short form affects cell-cycle progression and induces apoptosis-like death: exploitation of GSK-3 for treating leishmaniasis.

Int J Parasitol 2009 Oct 13;39(12):1289-303. Epub 2009 May 13.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Vas. Sofias Ave., 11521 Athens, Greece.

Indirubins known to target mammalian cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) were tested for their antileishmanial activity. 6-Br-indirubin-3'-oxime (6-BIO), 6-Br-indirubin-3'acetoxime and 6-Br-5methylindirubin-3'oxime (5-Me-6-BIO) were the most potent inhibitors of Leishmania donovani promastigote and amastigote growth (half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) values < or =1.2 microM). Since the 6-Br substitution on the indirubin backbone greatly enhances the selectivity for mammalian GSK-3 over CDKs, we identified the leishmanial GSK-3 homologues, a short (LdGSK-3s) and a long one, focusing on LdGSK-3s which is closer to human GSK-3beta, for further studies. Kinase assays showed that 5-Me-6-BIO inhibited LdGSK-3s more potently than CRK3 (the CDK1 homologue in Leishmania), whilst 6-BIO was more selective for CRK3. Promastigotes treated with 5-Me-6-BIO accumulated in the S and G2/M cell-cycle phases and underwent apoptosis-like death. Interestingly, these phenotypes were completely reversed in parasites over-expressing LdGSK-3s. This finding strongly supports that LdGSK-3s is: (i) the intracellular target of 5-Me-6-BIO, and (ii) involved in cell-cycle control and in pathways leading to apoptosis-like death. 6-BIO treatment induced a G2/M arrest, consistent with inhibition of CRK3 and apoptosis-like death. These effects were partially reversed in parasites over-expressing LdGSK-3s suggesting that in vivo 6-BIO may also target LdGSK-3s. Molecular docking of 5-Me-6-BIO in CRK3 and 6-BIO in human GSK-3beta and LdGSK-3s active sites predict the existence of functional/structural differences that are sufficient to explain the observed difference in their affinity. In conclusion, LdGSK-3s is validated as a potential drug target in Leishmania and could be exploited for the development of selective indirubin-based leishmanicidals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2009.04.005DOI Listing
October 2009

The paraphyletic composition of Leishmania donovani zymodeme MON-37 revealed by multilocus microsatellite typing.

Microbes Infect 2009 May-Jun;11(6-7):707-15. Epub 2009 Apr 17.

Institut für Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) was employed to compare strains of Leishmania donovani belonging to the MON-37 zymodeme (MON-37 strains) from Cyprus and Israel to MON-37 strains from the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, China and East Africa as well as strains of other zymodemes. The MLMT data were processed with a distance-based method for construction of phylogenetic trees, factorial correspondence analysis and a Bayesian model-based clustering algorithm. All three approaches assigned the MON-37 strains to different distantly related genetically defined subgroups, corresponding to their geographical origin. Specifically, the Kenyan, Sri Lankan and Indian MON-37 strains were genetically closer to strains of other zymodemes from the same regions than to MON-37 strains from other areas. MON-37 strains from Cyprus and Israel were clearly different not only among themselves, but also compared to all the other MON-37 strains studied and could, therefore, be autochthonous. This study showed that the zymodeme MON-37 is paraphyletic and does not reflect the genetic relationship between strains of different geographical origin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2009.04.009DOI Listing
August 2009

Drug regimens for visceral leishmaniasis in Mediterranean countries.

Trop Med Int Health 2008 Oct 24;13(10):1272-6. Epub 2008 Aug 24.

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

Until the early 1990s, pentavalent antimony was the only documented first-line drug employed for the treatment of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the Mediterranean, with reported cure rates exceeding 95% in immunocompetent patients. The emergence of antimony resistance in other endemic settings and the increase in drug options have stimulated re-evaluation of the current therapeutic approaches and outcomes in Mediterranean countries. A scientific consortium ('LeishMed' network) collected updated information from collaborating clinical health centres of 11 endemic countries of Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. In contrast with the previous situation, VL is now treated differently in the region, basically through three approaches: (1) In Northern Africa and in part of the Middle East, pentavalent antimony is still the mainstay for therapy, with no alternative drug options for treating relapses; (2) In some European countries and Israel, both pentavalent antimony and lipid-associated amphotericin B (AmB) formulations are used as first-line drugs, although in different patients' categories; (3) In other countries of Europe, mainly liposomal AmB is employed. Importantly, cure rates exhibited by different drugs, including antimonials in areas where they are still in routine use, are similarly high (>/=95%) in immunocompetent patients. Our findings show that antimony resistance is not an emerging problem in the Mediterranean. A country's wealth affects the treatment choice, which represents a balance between drug efficacy, toxicity and cost, and costs associated with patient's care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02144.xDOI Listing
October 2008

Differentiation and gene flow among European populations of Leishmania infantum MON-1.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2008 Jul 9;2(7):e261. Epub 2008 Jul 9.

Institut für Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Background: Leishmania infantum is the causative agent of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis in the Mediterranean region, South America, and China. MON-1 L. infantum is the predominating zymodeme in all endemic regions, both in humans and dogs, the reservoir host. In order to answer important epidemiological questions it is essential to discriminate strains of MON-1.

Methodology/principal Findings: We have used a set of 14 microsatellite markers to analyse 141 strains of L. infantum mainly from Spain, Portugal, and Greece of which 107 strains were typed by MLEE as MON-1. The highly variable microsatellites have the potential to discriminate MON-1 strains from other L. infantum zymodemes and even within MON-1 strains. Model- and distance-based analysis detected a considerable amount of structure within European L. infantum. Two major monophyletic groups-MON-1 and non-MON-1-could be distinguished, with non-MON-1 being more polymorphic. Strains of MON-98, 77, and 108 were always part of the MON-1 group. Among MON-1, three geographically determined and genetically differentiated populations could be identified: (1) Greece; (2) Spain islands-Majorca/Ibiza; (3) mainland Portugal/Spain. All four populations showed a predominantly clonal structure; however, there are indications of occasional recombination events and gene flow even between MON-1 and non-MON-1. Sand fly vectors seem to play an important role in sustaining genetic diversity. No correlation was observed between Leishmania genotypes, host specificity, and clinical manifestation. In the case of relapse/re-infection, only re-infections by a strain with a different MLMT profile can be unequivocally identified, since not all strains have individual MLMT profiles.

Conclusion: In the present study for the first time several key epidemiological questions could be addressed for the MON-1 zymodeme, because of the high discriminatory power of microsatellite markers, thus creating a basis for further epidemiological investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000261DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2438616PMC
July 2008

Spread of vector-borne diseases and neglect of Leishmaniasis, Europe.

Emerg Infect Dis 2008 Jul;14(7):1013-8

Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde, Antwerp, Belgium.

The risk for reintroduction of some exotic vector-borne diseases in Europe has become a hot topic, while the reality of others is neglected at the public health policy level. Leishmaniasis is endemic in all southern countries of Europe, with approximately 700 autochthonous human cases reported each year (3,950 if Turkey is included). Asymptomatic cases have been estimated at 30-100/1 symptomatic case, and leishmaniasis has up to 25% seroprevalence in domestic dogs. Even though leishmaniasis is essentially associated with Leishmania infantum and visceral leishmaniasis, new species, such as L. donovani and L. tropica, might colonize European sand fly vectors. Drug-resistant L. infantum strains might be exported outside Europe through dogs. Despite this possibility, no coordinated surveillance of the disease exists at the European level. In this review of leishmaniasis importance in Europe, we would like to bridge the gap between research and surveillance and control.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600355PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1407.071589DOI Listing
July 2008

Development of a molecular assay specific for the Leishmania donovani complex that discriminates L. donovani/Leishmania infantum zymodemes: a useful tool for typing MON-1.

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis 2008 Jan 21;60(1):33-42. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 115 21 Athens, Greece.

We have developed a simple, rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective typing method, based on the amplicon size of the K26 gene, capable of species/strain discrimination of Leishmania donovani complex strains causing visceral leishmaniasis (VL). It was evaluated on 112 strains and compared with multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) typing. The K26 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) applied on 26 representative L. donovani complex strains gave 14 different amplicon sizes. The assay was specific to the L. donovani complex and discriminated L. infantum from L. donovani strains. MON-1 strains were also easily distinguished from other non-MON-1. Surprisingly, 29.3% of the Greek strains included in this study were MLEE typed as MON-98 and gave exclusively a 940-bp amplicon. The majority of Greek MON-1 strains gave also the 940-bp amplicon, whereas a 626-bp amplicon was consistently obtained with other European MON-1 strains. K26 PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism, based on MON-1 K26 sequence polymorphism, gave 2 MON-1 subgroups. Application of the method may contribute to efficiently monitor VL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2007.07.019DOI Listing
January 2008

In vitro activity of 10-deacetylbaccatin III against Leishmania donovani promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes.

Planta Med 2007 Aug 9;73(10):1081-8. Epub 2007 Aug 9.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece.

Current treatments for leishmaniasis are unsatisfactory due to their route of administration, toxicity and expense but, most importantly, to the developed resistance of Leishmania to first-line drugs. Therefore, the identification of new effective targeted drugs is an urgent need. Since many studies have shown that medicinal plants contain compounds active against protozoa we have undertaken a study aiming to determine the antileishmanial activity of the taxoid 10-deacetylbaccatin III, isolated from dried needles and small branches of the European yew tree (Taxus baccata). Interestingly, 10-deacetylbaccatin III was found to selectively inhibit the growth of L. DONOVANI intracellular amastigotes within J774 murine macrophages in vitro at nanomolar concentrations with an IC(50) value of 70 nM. Concentrations of 10-deacetylbaccatin III as high as 5 microM did not affect J774 murine macrophages whereas 20 nM of taxol, used as a control, was toxic to macrophages. The compound also inhibited the growth of L. donovani promastigotes but at higher concentrations with a maximum level of inhibition of 35 %. Taxol inhibited promastigote growth at micromolar concentrations. Comparison of the effect of 10-deacetylbaccatin III to that of taxol on cell cycle progression and cellular morphology showed that their mechanisms of action are different. The 10-deacetylbaccatin III-treated promastigotes were slightly arrested in the G2/M phase whereas taxol-treated cells were blocked in the G2/M phase. In addition 10-deacetylbaccatin III treatment, contrary to taxol, did not affect cellular morphology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-981579DOI Listing
August 2007

Evolutionary and geographical history of the Leishmania donovani complex with a revision of current taxonomy.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2007 May 21;104(22):9375-80. Epub 2007 May 21.

*Biology Centre, Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Sciences, and Faculty of Biology, University of South Bohemia, 370 05 Ceské Budejovice, Czech Republic.

Leishmaniasis is a geographically widespread severe disease, with an increasing incidence of two million cases per year and 350 million people from 88 countries at risk. The causative agents are species of Leishmania, a protozoan flagellate. Visceral leishmaniasis, the most severe form of the disease, lethal if untreated, is caused by species of the Leishmania donovani complex. These species are morphologically indistinguishable but have been identified by molecular methods, predominantly multilocus enzyme electrophoresis. We have conducted a multifactorial genetic analysis that includes DNA sequences of protein-coding genes as well as noncoding segments, microsatellites, restriction-fragment length polymorphisms, and randomly amplified polymorphic DNAs, for a total of approximately 18,000 characters for each of 25 geographically representative strains. Genotype is strongly correlated with geographical (continental) origin, but not with current taxonomy or clinical outcome. We propose a new taxonomy, in which Leishmania infantum and L. donovani are the only recognized species of the L. donovani complex, and we present an evolutionary hypothesis for the origin and dispersal of the species. The genus Leishmania may have originated in South America, but diversified after migration into Asia. L. donovani and L. infantum diverged approximately 1 Mya, with further divergence of infraspecific genetic groups between 0.4 and 0.8 Mya. The prevailing mode of reproduction is clonal, but there is evidence of genetic exchange between strains, particularly in Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703678104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1890502PMC
May 2007

Leishmania histone H1 overexpression delays parasite cell-cycle progression, parasite differentiation and reduces Leishmania infectivity in vivo.

Mol Microbiol 2006 Jun;60(6):1457-73

Department of Microbiology, Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas. Sofias Avenue, 115 21 Athens, Greece.

Episomal expression of Leishmania histone H1 sense mRNAs in Leishmania major promastigotes was found previously to result in overexpression of this molecule and to reduce parasite infectivity in vitro. Herein, we evaluated the in vivo infectivity of these transfectants, in BALB/c mice, and showed that it is dramatically reduced. No lesions were observed in this group of mice and this was associated with an extremely low number of parasites both in the footpad and in the draining lymph nodes. Interestingly, the transfectants-reduced infectivity was associated with a delay in their cell-cycle progression and differentiation to axenic amastigotes, assessed in vitro. Therefore, the dramatic reduction in their infectivity may be attributed to the above-mentioned phenotypic modifications. As the metazoan linker histone H1(0) homologue is known to delay cell-cycle progression in mammalian cells we investigated whether its Leishmania counterpart, which possesses homology to its C-terminal region, when expressed in mammalian cells may also affect their cell-cycle progression. It was thus shown that Leishmania histone H1 expressed in COS7 and NIH 3T3 cells, delays cell-cycle progression in these cells too. The latter strengthens the phenotype observed in Leishmania and provides evidence that critical functions of histone H1 molecules are conserved throughout evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05205.xDOI Listing
June 2006

Is the reactive oxygen species-dependent-NF-kappaB activation observed in iron-loaded BALB/c mice a key process preventing growth of Leishmania major progeny and tissue-damage?

Microbes Infect 2006 May 31;8(6):1473-82. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas. Sofias Avenue, 115 21 Athens, Greece.

Systemic iron delivery to BALB/c mice, at time points surrounding the inoculation of 1000 Leishmania major metacyclic promastigotes intradermally in the ear results in the complete absence of onset and further development of ear lesion. In these iron-protected mice, the L. major intracellular progeny remains very low in both the ear and the draining lymph node. The iron-induced protective status is associated with a diphenyleneiodonium-sensitive sustained increased oxidative burst. We showed that iron-loaded mice developed no lesions at the site of the primary inoculation and were also resistant to reinoculation at a distant site (intradermal re-inoculation of 1000 metacyclic promastigotes in the contra-lateral ear). Interestingly, in the lymph node cell population recovered from iron-loaded mice at weeks 8 and 12 after the second parasite inoculation, and whatever the protective status studied--primary or resistant to re-inoculation--three potentially related features were observed: (i) NF-kappaB activation, (ii) enhanced TCR-mediated T lymphocyte proliferation, and (iii) high number of IFN-gamma-positive CD4(+)T cells. These results show a putative role of an iron-induced reactive oxygen species-dependent activation of NF-kappaB in the development of protective immunity against L. major.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2006.01.004DOI Listing
May 2006

The prevention of the growth of Leishmania major progeny in BALB/c iron-loaded mice: a process coupled to increased oxidative burst, the amplitude and duration of which depend on initial parasite developmental stage and dose.

Microbes Infect 2006 May 18;8(6):1464-72. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Vas. Sofias Avenue, 115 21 Athens, Greece.

BALB/c mice were given or not iron around the time of intradermal parasite inoculation, in their ears, of either 10(6) stationary-phase (designated "high-dose model") or 10(3)Leishmania major metacyclic promastigotes (designated "low-dose model"). Iron-loaded mice in the high-dose model displayed delayed and limited pathogenic processes, whereas in the low-dose model, the mice remained ear lesion-free over 12 months post-parasite inoculation. These phenotypes were coupled to an increased leukocyte oxidative burst displayed mainly by neutrophils: it was early and transient in the high-dose model, whereas it was sustained in the low-dose model. In the latter model, injection of an antioxidant (diphenyleneiodonium chloride) at week 2 post-L. major inoculation resulted in a significant decrease in oxidative burst and reversed the protective status. The increased and sustained oxidative burst displayed by the neutrophils, the sustained presence of IL-12 (p40/p70)-positive leukocytes in the ear dermis, the low number of inflammatory leukocytes in the ear dermis and their concomitant high number in the draining lymph node are three related features that likely contribute to the shaping of the protective status, the onset and dynamic maintenance of which are antioxidant sensitive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2006.01.014DOI Listing
May 2006

Down-regulation of gp63 level in Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes reduces their infectivity in BALB/c mice.

Microbes Infect 2006 May 3;8(6):1455-63. Epub 2006 Apr 3.

Department of Microbiology, Molecular Parasitology Laboratory, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas. Sofias Avenue, 11521 Athens, Greece.

Episomal expression of the major surface glycoprotein (gp63) sense and antisense mRNAs in Leishmania amazonensis was found previously to modulate the expression of this molecule as well as its infection of macrophages in vitro. Here, we evaluated the in vivo infectivity of these transfectants in BALB/c mice. Antisense downregulation of gp63 renders this parasite sensitive to complement-mediated lysis and less infective to mice, as indicated by a delay in lesion development and a significant reduction in lesion size and parasite loads at the site of inoculation and in the draining lymph nodes (DLNs). CD4+ cells at the site of inoculation decreased in number more rapidly and were 2-fold less numerous than those in controls by week 4. The number of IFN-gamma-positive cells was higher, while IL-10 positive cells were undetectable. In DLNs, CD4+ cells were higher in number, and the profile of cytokine-positive cells followed essentially the same patterns--found at the site of inoculation. These results suggest that the downregulation of gp63 increases extracellular lysis of the mutants by complement, in the in vivo environment, and reduces their infection of macrophages, resulting in a type 1 immune response seen at the site of inoculation and DLNs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2006.01.006DOI Listing
May 2006

Sand fly specificity of saliva-mediated protective immunity in Leishmania amazonensis-BALB/c mouse model.

Microbes Infect 2005 Apr 9;7(4):760-6. Epub 2005 Apr 9.

Department of Microbiology, Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 127 Bas. Sofias Ave., 11521 Athens, Greece.

Immune response of BALB/c mice to the salivary antigens of sand flies was found to vary with different species used, i.e. Phlebotomus papatasi, Phlebotomus sergenti and Lutzomyia longipalpis. Exposure of mice to bites of these sand flies elicits production of antibodies, which are largely specific to different saliva antigens previously identified as unique to the respective fly species. When immunized intradermally (i.d.) with salivary gland lysates (SGL) of L. longipalpis, BALB/c mice developed partial protective immunity against challenges in the contralateral ears with Leishmania amazonensis plus the gland lysates. Preimmunization of these mice with the lysates from the other two species was ineffective, further indicative of the specificity of saliva-mediated immune response. The partial protective immunity observed is significant, although it is not as dramatic as reported previously in a different sand fly-mouse model. There is a correlation of this immunity with a lower number of mononuclear and polymorphonuclear phagocytes at the site of parasite inoculation. Vector species-specificity of this immunity implies its elicitation by unique saliva antigen-an issue which requires attention when designing saliva-based vaccines against leishmaniasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2005.01.013DOI Listing
April 2005

Effect of synthetic peptides corresponding to residues 313-332 of the alphaIIb subunit on platelet activation and fibrinogen binding to alphaIIbbeta3.

Eur J Biochem 2004 Feb;271(4):855-62

Department of Chemistry Medical School, University of Ioannina, Greece.

The platelet integrin receptor alphaIIbbeta3 plays a critical role in thrombosis and haemostasis by mediating interactions between platelets and several ligands but primarily fibrinogen. It has been shown previously that the YMESRADR KLAEVGRVYLFL (313-332) sequence of the alphaIIb subunit plays an important role in platelet activation, fibrinogen binding and alphaIIbbeta3-mediated outside-in signalling. Furthermore, we recently showed that the 20-residue peptide (20-mer) alphaIIb 313-332, is a potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation and fibrinogen binding to alphaIIbbeta3, interacting with fibrinogen rather than the receptor. In an effort to determine the sequence and the minimum length required for the biological activity of the above 20-mer, we synthesized seven octapeptides, each overlapping by six residues, covering the entire sequence and studied their effect on platelet activation as well as fibrinogen binding to activated platelets. We show for the first time that octapeptides containing the RAD sequence are capable of inhibiting platelet aggregation and secretion as well as fibrinogen binding to the activated alphaIIbbeta3, possibly interacting with the ligand rather than the receptor. This suggests that the RAD sequence, common to all the inhibitory peptides, is critical for their biological activity. However, the presence of the YMES sequence, adjacent to RAD, significantly increases the peptide's biological potency. The development of such inhibitors derived from the 313-332 region of the alphaIIb subunit may be advantageous against the RGD-like antagonists as they could inhibit platelet activation without interacting with alphaIIbbeta3, thus failing to further induce alphaIIbbeta3-mediated outside-in signalling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1432-1033.2004.03990.xDOI Listing
February 2004

Mapping the binding domains of the alpha(IIb) subunit. A study performed on the activated form of the platelet integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3).

Eur J Biochem 2003 Sep;270(18):3760-7

Department of Chemistry, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.

alpha(IIb)beta(3), a member of the integrin family of adhesive protein receptors, is the most abundant glycoprotein on platelet plasma-membranes and binds to adhesive proteins via the recognition of short amino acid sequences, for example the ubiquitous RGD motif. However, elucidation of the ligand-binding domains of the receptor remains controversial, mainly owing to the fact that integrins are conformationally labile during purification and storage. In this study, a detailed mapping of the extracellular region of the alpha(IIb) subunit is presented, using overlapping 20-peptides, in order to identify the binding sites of alpha(IIb) potentially involved in the platelet-aggregation event. Regions alpha(IIb) 313-332, alpha(IIb) 265-284 and alpha(IIb) 57-64 of alpha(IIb)beta(3) were identified as putative fibrinogen-binding domains because the corresponding peptides inhibited platelet aggregation and antagonized fibrinogen association, possibly by interacting with this ligand. The latter is further supported by the finding that the above peptides did not interfere with the binding of PAC-1 to the activated form of alpha(IIb)beta(3). Furthermore, alpha(IIb) 313-332 was found to bind to fibrinogen in a solid-phase binding assay. It should be emphasized that all the experiments in this study were carried out on activated platelets and consequently on the activated form of this integrin receptor. We hypothesize that RAD and RAE adhesive motifs, encompassed in alpha(IIb) 313-332, 265-284 and 57-64, are capable of recognizing complementary domains of fibrinogen, thus inhibiting the binding of this ligand to platelets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1432-1033.2003.03762.xDOI Listing
September 2003

Expression of a novel Leishmania gene encoding a histone H1-like protein in Leishmania major modulates parasite infectivity in vitro.

Infect Immun 2002 Dec;70(12):6976-86

Department of Biochemistry, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 115 21 Athens, Greece.

We describe identification and characterization of a novel two-copy gene of the parasitic protozoan Leishmania that encodes a nuclear protein designated LNP18. This protein is highly conserved in the genus Leishmania, and it is developmentally regulated. It is an alanine- and lysine-rich protein with potential bipartite nuclear targeting sequence sites. LNP18 shows sequence similarity to H1 histones of trypanosomatids and of higher eukaryotes and in particular with histone H1 of Leishmania major. The nuclear localization of LNP18 was determined by indirect immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis of isolated nuclei by using antibodies raised against the recombinant protein as probes. The antibodies recognized predominantly a 18-kDa band or a 18-kDa-16-kDa doublet. Photochemical cross-linking of intact parasites followed by Western blot analysis provided evidence that LNP18 is indeed a DNA-binding protein. Generation of transfectants overexpressing LNP18 allowed us to determine the role of this protein in Leishmania infection of macrophages in vitro. These studies revealed that transfectants overexpressing LNP18 are significantly less infective than transfectants with the vector alone and suggested that the level of LNP18 expression modulates Leishmania infectivity, as assessed in vitro.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC132950PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.70.12.6976-6986.2002DOI Listing
December 2002
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