Comparisons of mutants lacking the golgi UDP-galactose or GDP-mannose transporters establish that phosphoglycans are important for promastigote but not amastigote virulence in Leishmania major

Althea A. Capul, Suzanne Hickerson, Tamara Barron, Salvatore J. Turco, Stephen M. Beverley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abundant surface Leishmania phosphoglycans (PGs) containing [Gal(β1,4)Man(α1-PO4)]-derived repeating units are important at several points in the infectious cycle of this protozoan parasite. PG synthesis requires transport of activated nucleotide-sugar precursors from the cytoplasm to the Golgi apparatus. Correspondingly, null mutants of the L. major GDP-mannose transporter LPG2 lack PGs and are severely compromised in macrophage survival and induction of acute pathology in susceptible mice, yet they are able to persist indefinitely and induce protective immunity. However, lpg2- L. mexicana amastigotes similarly lacking PGs but otherwise normal in known glycoconjugates remain able to induce acute pathology. To explore this further, we tested the infectivity of a new PG-null L. major mutant, which is inactivated in the two UDP-galactose transporter genes LPG5A and LPG5B. Surprisingly this mutant did not recapitulate the phenotype of L. major lpg2-, instead resembling the L. major lipophosphoglycan- deficient lpg1- mutant. Metacyclic lpg5A-/lpg5B - promastigotes showed strong defects in the initial steps of macrophage infection and survival. However, after a modest delay, the lpg5A -/lpg5B- mutant induced lesion pathology in infected mice, which thereafter progressed normally. Amastigotes recovered from these lesions were fully infective in mice and in macrophages despite the continued absence of PGs. This suggests that another LPG2-dependent metabolite is responsible for the L. major amastigote virulence defect, although further studies ruled out cytoplasmic mannans. These data thus resolve the distinct phenotypes seen among lpg2- Leishmania species by emphasizing the role of glycoconjugates other than PGs in amastigote virulence, while providing further support for the role of PGs in metacyclic promastigote virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4629-4637
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Volume75
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

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