ABSTRACT: Leishmaniasis is a major public health problem and till date there are no effective vaccines available. The control strategy relies solely on chemotherapy of the infected people. However, the present repertoire of drugs is limited and increasing resistance towards them has posed a major concern. The first step in drug discovery is to identify a suitable drug target. The genome sequences of Leishmania major and Leishmania infantum has revealed immense amount of information and has given the opportunity to identify novel drug targets that are unique to these parasites. Utilization of this information in order to come up with a candidate drug molecule requires combining all the technology and using a multi-disciplinary approach, right from characterizing the target protein to high throughput screening of compounds. Leishmania belonging to the order kinetoplastidae emerges from the ancient eukaryotic lineages. They are quite diverse from their mammalian hosts and there are several cellular processes that we are getting to know of, which exist distinctly in these parasites. In this review, we discuss some of the metabolic pathways that are essential and could be used as potential drug targets in Leishmania.
Project description:Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasites of the genus <i>Leishmania</i> (NTD) endemic in 98 countries. Although some drugs are available, current treatments deal with issues such as toxicity, low efficacy, and emergence of resistance. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify new targets for the development of new antileishmanial drugs<i>.</i> Protein kinases (PKs), which play an essential role in many biological processes, have become potential drug targets for many parasitic diseases. A refined bioinformatics pipeline was applied in order to define and compare the kinomes of L. <i>infantum</i> and L. <i>braziliensis,</i> species that cause cutaneous and visceral manifestations of leishmaniasis in the Americas, the latter being potentially fatal if untreated. Respectively, 224 and 221 PKs were identified in L. <i>infantum</i> and L. <i>braziliensis</i> overall. Almost all unclassified eukaryotic PKs were assigned to six of nine major kinase groups and, consequently, most have been classified into family and subfamily. Furthermore, revealing the kinomes for both <i>Leishmania</i> species allowed for the prioritization of potential drug targets that could be explored for discovering new drugs against leishmaniasis. Finally, we used a drug repurposing approach and prioritized seven approved drugs and investigational compounds to be experimentally tested against <i>Leishmania</i>. Trametinib and NMS-1286937 inhibited the growth of L. <i>infantum</i> and L. <i>braziliensis</i> promastigotes and amastigotes and therefore might be good candidates for the drug repurposing pipeline.
Project description:Lutzomyia longipalpis sand flies are the major natural vector of Leishmania infantum parasites, responsible for transmission of visceral leishmaniasis in the New World. Several experimental studies have demonstrated the ability of Lu. longipalpis to sustain development of different Leishmania species. However, no study had explored in depth the potential vector competence of Lu. longipalpis for Leishmania species other than L. infantum. Here, we show that Lu. longipalpis is a competent vector of L. major parasites, being able to acquire parasites from active cutaneous leishmaniasis lesions, sustain mature infections, and transmit them to naive hosts, causing disease.
Project description:Genetic exchange is a powerful tool to study gene function in microorganisms. Here, we tested the feasibility of generating Leishmania hybrids by electroporating genomic DNA of donor cells into recipient Leishmania parasites. The donor DNA was marked with a drug resistance marker facilitating the selection of DNA transfer into the recipient cells. The transferred DNA was integrated exclusively at homologous locus and was as large as 45 kb. The independent generation of L. infantum hybrids with L. major sequences was possible for several chromosomal regions. Interfering with the mismatch repair machinery by inactivating the MSH2 gene enabled an increased efficiency of recombination between divergent sequences, hence favouring the selection of hybrids between species. Hybrids were shown to acquire the phenotype derived from the donor cells, as demonstrated for the transfer of drug resistance genes from L. major into L. infantum. The described method is a first step allowing the generation of in vitro hybrids for testing gene functions in a natural genomic context in the parasite Leishmania.
Project description:Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis is a widespread and potentially disfiguring protozoal infection that is endemic in the Mediterranean basin, Africa, and parts of Asia. Human infection is caused by several species of Leishmania parasites, such as Leishmania infantum. Available systemic and topical treatments vary in efficacy and are often unjustified due to their toxicity. We report on a case that was treated with posaconazole, a drug typically considered an antifungal agent but which also targets specific metabolic pathways of the parasite.
Project description:Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), like leishmaniasis, are major causes of mortality in resource-limited countries. The mortality associated with these diseases is largely due to fragile healthcare systems, lack of access to medicines, and resistance by the parasites to the few available drugs. Many antiparasitic plant-derived isoprenoids have been reported, and many of them have good in vitro activity against various forms of Leishmania spp. In this work, potential Leishmania biochemical targets of antiparasitic isoprenoids were studied in silico. Antiparasitic monoterpenoids selectively docked to L. infantum nicotinamidase, L. major uridine diphosphate-glucose pyrophosphorylase and methionyl t-RNA synthetase. The two protein targets selectively targeted by germacranolide sesquiterpenoids were L. major methionyl t-RNA synthetase and dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. Diterpenoids generally favored docking to L. mexicana glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. Limonoids also showed some selectivity for L. mexicana glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and L. major dihydroorotate dehydrogenase while withanolides docked more selectively with L. major uridine diphosphate-glucose pyrophosphorylase. The selectivity of the different classes of antiparasitic compounds for the protein targets considered in this work can be explored in fragment- and/or structure-based drug design towards the development of leads for new antileishmanial drugs.
Project description:The Trypanosomatids parasites Leishmania braziliensis, Leishmania major and Leishmania infantum are important human pathogens. Despite of years of study and genome availability, effective vaccine has not been developed yet, and the chemotherapy is highly toxic. Therefore, it is clear just interdisciplinary integrated studies will have success in trying to search new targets for developing of vaccines and drugs. An essential part of this rationale is related to protein-protein interaction network (PPI) study which can provide a better understanding of complex protein interactions in biological system. Thus, we modeled PPIs for Trypanosomatids through computational methods using sequence comparison against public database of protein or domain interaction for interaction prediction (Interolog Mapping) and developed a dedicated combined system score to address the predictions robustness. The confidence evaluation of network prediction approach was addressed using gold standard positive and negative datasets and the AUC value obtained was 0.94. As result, 39,420, 43,531 and 45,235 interactions were predicted for L. braziliensis, L. major and L. infantum respectively. For each predicted network the top 20 proteins were ranked by MCC topological index. In addition, information related with immunological potential, degree of protein sequence conservation among orthologs and degree of identity compared to proteins of potential parasite hosts was integrated. This information integration provides a better understanding and usefulness of the predicted networks that can be valuable to select new potential biological targets for drug and vaccine development. Network modularity which is a key when one is interested in destabilizing the PPIs for drug or vaccine purposes along with multiple alignments of the predicted PPIs were performed revealing patterns associated with protein turnover. In addition, around 50% of hypothetical protein present in the networks received some degree of functional annotation which represents an important contribution since approximately 60% of Leishmania predicted proteomes has no predicted function.
Project description:Leishmaniases are neglected diseases, caused by intracellular protozoan parasites of the <i>Leishmania</i> (<i>L</i>.) genus. Although the principal host cells of the parasites are macrophages, neutrophils are the first cells rapidly recruited to the site of parasites inoculation, where they play an important role in the early recognition and elimination of the parasites. The nature of early interactions between neutrophils and <i>Leishmania</i> could influence the outcome of infection. Herein we aimed to evaluate whether different <i>Leishmania</i> strains, responsible for distinct clinical manifestations, could influence <i>ex vivo</i> functional activity of neutrophils. Human polymorphonuclear leukocytes were isolated from 14 healthy volunteers and the <i>ex vivo</i> infection of these cells was done with two <i>L. infantum</i> and one <i>L. major</i> strains. Infection parameters were determined and neutrophils activation was assessed by oxidative burst, degranulation, DNA release and apoptosis; cytokine production was measured by a multiplex flow cytometry analysis. Intracellular amastigotes were rescued to determine <i>Leishmania</i> strains survival. The results showed that <i>L. infantum</i> and <i>L. major</i> promastigotes similarly infected the neutrophils. Oxidative burst, neutrophil elastase, myeloperoxidase activity and apoptosis were significantly increased in infected neutrophils but with no differences between strains. The <i>L. infantum</i>-infected neutrophils induced more DNA release than those infected by <i>L. major</i>. Furthermore, <i>Leishmania</i> strains induced high amounts of IL-8 and stimulated the production of IL-1?, TNF-?, and TGF-? by human neutrophils. We observed that only one strain promoted IL-6 release by these neutrophils. The production of TNF-? was also differently induced by the parasites strains. All these results demonstrate that <i>L. infantum</i> and <i>L. major</i> strains were able to induce globally a similar <i>ex vivo</i> activation and apoptosis of neutrophils; however, they differentially triggered cytokines release from these cells. In addition, rescue of intracellular parasites indicated different survival rates further emphasizing on the influence of parasite strains within a species on the fate of infection.
Project description:Leishmania infantum is the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis transmitted by the bite of female sand flies. According to the WHO, the estimated annual incidence of leishmaniasis is one million new cases, resulting in 30,000 deaths per year. The recommended drugs for treating leishmaniasis include Amphotericin B. But over the course of the years, several cases of relapses have been documented. These relapses cast doubt on the efficiency of actual treatments and raise the question of potential persistence sites. Indeed, Leishmania has the ability to persist in humans for long periods of time and even after successful treatment. Several potential persistence sites have already been identified and named as safe targets. As adipose tissue has been proposed as a sanctuary of persistence for several pathogens, we investigated whether Leishmania infantum could be found in this tissue. We demonstrated both in cell cultures and in vivo that Leishmania infantum was able to infect adipocytes. Altogether our results suggest adipocytes as a ‘safe target’ for Leishmania infantum parasites.
Project description:Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the most severe form of leishmaniasis, is caused by Leishmania donovani and Leishmania infantum. The infected dogs with canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) are important reservoirs for VL in humans, so the diagnosis, treatment and vaccination of the infected dogs will ultimately decrease the rate of human VL. Proteomics and immunoproteomics techniques have facilitated the introduction of novel drug, vaccine and diagnostic targets. Our immunoproteomic study was conducted to identify new immunoreactive proteins in amastigote form of L. infantum. The strain of L. infantum (MCAN/IR/07/Moheb-gh) was obtained from CVL-infected dogs. J774 macrophage cells were infected with the L. infantum promastigotes. The infected macrophages were ruptured, and pure amastigotes were extracted from the macrophages. After protein extraction, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis was employed for protein separation followed by Western blotting. Western blotting was performed, using symptomatic and asymptomatic sera of the infected dogs with CVL. Thirteen repeatable immunoreactive spots were identified by Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Some, including prohibitin, ornithine aminotransferase, annexin A4, and apolipoprotein A-I, have been critically involved in metabolic pathways, survival, and pathogenicity of Leishmania parasites. Further investigations are required to confirm our identified immunoreactive proteins as a biomarker for CVL.
Project description:All Leishmania species parasites are introduced into mammalian skin through a sand fly bite, but different species cause distinct clinical outcomes. Mouse studies suggest that early responses are critical determinants of subsequent adaptive immunity in leishmaniasis, yet few studies address the role of keratinocytes, the most abundant cell in the epidermis. We hypothesized that Leishmania infection causes keratinocytes to produce immunomodulatory factors that influence the outcome of infection. Incubation of primary or immortalized human keratinocytes with Leishmania infantum or Leishmania major, which cause visceral or cutaneous leishmaniasis, respectively, elicited dramatically different responses. Keratinocytes incubated with L. infantum significantly increased expression of proinflammatory genes for IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor, and IL-1B, whereas keratinocytes exposed to several L. major isolates did not. Furthermore, keratinocyte-monocyte co-incubation studies across a 4 µM semipermeable membrane suggested that L. infantum-exposed keratinocytes release soluble factors that enhance monocyte control of intracellular L. infantum replication (P < 0.01). L. major-exposed keratinocytes had no comparable effect. These data suggest that L. infantum and L. major differentially activate keratinocytes to release factors that limit infection in monocytes. We propose that keratinocytes initiate or withhold a proinflammatory response at the site of infection, generating a microenvironment uniquely tailored to each Leishmania species that may affect the course of disease.