The nucleotide sugar UDP-galactose (UDP-Gal) is essential for the biosynthesis of several abundant glycoconjugates forming the surface glycocalyx of the protozoan parasite Leishmania major. Current data suggest that UDP-Gal could arise de novo by epimerization of UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) or by a salvage pathway involving phosphorylation of Gal and the action of UDP-glucose: α-D-galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase as described by Leloir. Since both pathways require UDP-Glc, inactivation of the UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGP) catalyzing activation of glucose-1 phosphate to UDP-Glc was expected to deprive parasites of UDP-Gal required for Leishmania glycocalyx formation. Targeted deletion of the gene encoding UGP, however, only partially affected the synthesis ofthe Gal-rich phosphoglycans. Moreover, no alteration in the abundant Gal-containing glycoinositolphospholipids was found in the deletion mutant. Consistent with these findings, the virulence of the UGP-deficient mutant was only modestly affected. These data suggest that Leishmania elaborates a UDP-Glc independent salvage pathway for UDP-Gal biosynthesis.
- Nucleotide sugars metabolism