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Nature. Author manuscript; available in PMC Mar 9, 2010.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC2835460
EMSID: UKMS4868

Transmission of cutaneous leishmaniasis by sand flies is enhanced by regurgitation of fPPG

Abstract

Sand flies are the exclusive vectors of the protozoan parasite Leishmania, but the mechanism of transmission by fly bite has not been determined nor incorporated into experimental models of infection. In sand flies with mature Leishmania infections the anterior midgut is blocked by a gel of parasite origin, the promastigote secretory gel (PSG),. Here, we analyse for the first time the inocula from Leishmania mexicana infected Lutzomyia longipalpis sand flies. This revealed the size of the infectious dose, the underlying mechanism of parasite delivery by regurgitation, and the novel contribution made to infection by filamentous proteophosphoglycan (fPPG), a component of PSG found to accompany the parasites during transmission. Collectively, these results have important implications for understanding the relationship between parasite and its vector, the pathology of cutaneous leishmaniasis in humans and also the development of effective vaccines and drugs. These findings emphasise that to fully understand transmission of vector-borne diseases the interaction between all three participants must be considered.

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