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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2007 Mar;152(1):35-46. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Genomic and proteomic expression analysis of Leishmania promastigote and amastigote life stages: the Leishmania genome is constitutively expressed.

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  • 1Immunity and Infection Research Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Canada.


Leishmania are protozoan parasites that cause a wide spectrum of clinical diseases in humans and are a major public health risk in several countries. Leishmania life cycle consists of an extracellular flagellated promastigote stage within the midgut of a sandfly vector, and a morphological distinct intracellular amastigote stage within macrophages of a mammalian host. This study reports the use of DNA oligonucleotide genome microarrays representing 8160 genes to analyze the mRNA expression profiles of L. major promastigotes and lesion derived amastigotes. Over 94% of the genes were expressed in both life stages. Advanced statistical analysis identified a surprisingly low degree of differential mRNA expression: 1.4% of the total genes in amastigotes and 1.5% in promastigotes. These microarray results demonstrate that the L. major genome is essentially constitutively expressed in both life stages and suggest that Leishmania is constitutively adapted for survival and replication in either the sandfly vector or macrophage host utilizing an appropriate set of genes for each vastly different environment. Quantitative proteomics, using the isotope coded affinity tag (ICAT) technology and mass spectrometry, was used to identify L. infantum promastigote and axenic amastigote differentially expressed proteins. Of the 91 distinct proteins identified, 8% were differentially expressed in the amastigote stage, 20% were differentially expressed in the promastigote stage, and the remaining 72% were considered constitutively expressed. The differential expression was validated by the identification of previously reported stage specific proteins and identified several amastigote and promastigote novel stage specific proteins.

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