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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 106-117

Pathogenicity of Leishmania donovani is associated with the high expression of a group low molecular weight proteins

Department of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, QLD 4122, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Partha Mitra
Department of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, 20, Cornwall Road, Woolloongabba, QLD 4122
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5070.162521

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Background: With few exceptions, members of the Leishmania donovani complex such as L. donovani, L. infantum and L. chagashi are the etiological agents of visceral leishmaniasis or kala-azar. Promastigotes of Leishmania spp. lose their Pathogenicity; the ability to establish infection in a susceptible host, after prolonged culture. The molecular basis of this evolution of pathogenic to nonpathogenic culture has not been very well understood. It has been proposed that the loss of pathogenicity is associated with the gradual disappearance of selective parasite proteins. An alternative hypothesis is that during prolonged culture, the pathogenic clonal population of the parasite is deleted from the mixed population due to their selection pressure. This clonal deletion is proposed to be responsible for the emergence of the nonpathogenic population. Study Methodology and Results: We have a done a series of two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by western blot experiments to study the antigenic profile of few L. donovani isolates of Indian origin. We observed a gradual and significant downregulation of expression of a group of low molecular weight proteins (LMW, molecular weight 20-30 kDa) which are associated with loss of pathogenicity. These proteins are recognized only by antiserum raised against the whole cell extract of one of the pathogenic Indian L.donovani isolates, Ag83, and remained undetected by antiserum raised against the nonpathogenic AG83 isolates. These LMW proteins were also present in the nonpathogenic extract in very low levels and remained undetected by the virulent serum, indicating a phenomenon of simultaneous downregulation of the expression and altered immunogenicity. LMW proteins were universally expressed in all early passage Indian isolate we tested and also detected in two clones obtained from pathogenic parasite culture. The antigenic patterns of none of the eight clones obtained from nonpathogenic culture were not exactly similar with the pathogenic clones. Conclusion: Therefore, our data strongly support the hypothesis that the loss of pathogenicity of L. donovani is associated with a change in antigenic profile, but not due the selective deletion of pathogenic clones.

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