Immunization with the GP46/M-2 membrane glycoprotein of Leishmania amazonensis has been shown to induce a protective immune response against infection. We have surveyed a variety of trypanosomatid species and genera for the presence and expression of this gene family, information that will be relevant to future vaccine studies against leishmaniasis. Molecular karyotype analysis revealed the presence of GP46/M-2 genes in all members of the Leishmania mexicana complex, Leishmania major, Leishmania donovani, Leishmania tarentolae, and Crithidia fasciculata. In contrast, DNAs from species of the Leishmania braziliensis complex (L. braziliensis, Leishmania guyanensis, and Leishmania panamensis) failed to hybridize to GP46/M-2 probes. Western blot analyses with several polyclonal antisera against the GP46/M-2 protein revealed protein expression in L. major and L. donovani, but not L. panamensis or L. braziliensis. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that a loss of the GP46A gene family occurred following separation of the L. braziliensis complex, prior to speciation events within this complex. These data indicate that GP46/M-2 membrane glycoprotein may not be critical to parasite survival, but may play an ancillary role during the developmental cycle.
- Molecular karyotype
- Protective antigen