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Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Feb 1;46(3):367-75. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.10.034. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

The role of reduced pterins in resistance to reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates in the protozoan parasite Leishmania.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie du CHUL, UniversitĂ© Laval, QuĂ©bec, QC G1V 4G2, Canada.


During its life cycle, the protozoan parasite Leishmania experiences oxidative stress when interacting with macrophages. Reduced pterins are known scavengers of reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates. Leishmania has a pteridine reductase, PTR1, whose main function is to provide reduced pterins. We investigated the role of PTR1 in resistance to oxidative and nitrosative stress in Leishmania tarentolae, Leishmania infantum, and Leishmania major PTR1(-/-) mutants. The PTR1(-/-) cells of the three species were more sensitive to H2O2- and NO-induced stress. Using a fluorescent probe allowing ROI quantification, we demonstrated an increase in intracellular oxidant molecules in the PTR1(-/-) mutants. The disruption of PTR1 increased metacyclogenesis in L. infantum and L. major. We purified metacyclic parasites from PTR1(-/-) mutants and control cells and tested their intracellular survival in the J774 mouse cell line and in human monocyte-derived macrophages. Our results showed that PTR1(-/-) null mutants survived less in both macrophage models compared to control cells and this decrease was more pronounced in macrophages activated for oxidant production. This study demonstrates that one physiological role of reduced pterins in Leishmania is to deal with oxidative and nitrosative species, and a decreased ability to provide reduced pterins leads to decreased intracellular survival.

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