Leishmania genetic exchange is mediated by IgM natural antibodies

Tiago D. Serafim, Eva Iniguez, Ana Beatriz F. Barletta, Pedro Cecilio, Johannes S.P. Doehl, Mara Short, Justin Lack, Vinod Nair, Maria Disotuar, Timothy Wilson, Iliano V. Coutinho-Abreu, Claudio Meneses, John Andersen, Thiago Luiz Alves E Silva, Fabiano Oliveira, Joel Vega-Rodriguez, Carolina Barillas-Mury, José M.C. Ribeiro, Stephen M. Beverley, Shaden KamhawiJesus G. Valenzuela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Host factors that mediate Leishmania genetic exchange are not well defined. Here we demonstrate that natural IgM (IgMn)1–4 antibodies mediate parasite genetic exchange by inducing the transient formation of a spherical parasite clump that promotes parasite fusion and hybrid formation. We establish that IgMn from Leishmania-free animals binds to the surface of Leishmania parasites to induce significant changes in the expression of parasite transcripts and proteins. Leishmania binding to IgMn is partially lost after glycosidase treatment, although parasite surface phosphoglycans, including lipophosphoglycan, are not required for IgMn-induced parasite clumping. Notably, the transient formation of parasite clumps is essential for Leishmania hybridization in vitro. In vivo, we observed a 12-fold increase in hybrid formation in sand flies provided a second blood meal containing IgMn compared with controls. Furthermore, the generation of recombinant progeny from mating hybrids and parental lines were only observed in sand flies provided with IgMn. Both in vitro and in vivo IgM-induced Leishmania crosses resulted in full genome hybrids that show equal patterns of biparental contribution. Leishmania co-option of a host natural antibody to facilitate mating in the insect vector establishes a new paradigm of parasite–host–vector interdependence that contributes to parasite diversity and fitness by promoting genetic exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
Issue number7985
StatePublished - Nov 2 2023


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