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Clin Immunol. 2005 Mar;114(3):256-65.

Modulation of phagolysosome biogenesis by the lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania.

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INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, 531 boul. des Prairies, Laval QC, Canada H7V 1B7.


Promastigotes of the protozoan parasite Leishmania are inoculated into the mammalian host by an infected sandfly and are phagocytosed by macrophages. There, they differentiate into amastigotes, which replicate in phagolysosomes. A family of glycoconjugates, the phosphoglycans (PGs), plays an important role in the ability of promastigotes to survive the potentially microbicidal consequences of phagocytosis. Lipophosphoglycan (LPG), an abundant promastigote surface glycolipid, has received considerable attention over the past several years. Of interest for this review, lipophosphoglycan confers upon Leishmania donovani promastigotes the ability to inhibit phagolysosome biogenesis. This inhibition correlates with an accumulation of periphagosomal F-actin, which may potentially form a physical barrier that prevents L. donovani promastigote-harboring phagosomes from interacting with late endosomes and lysosomes. Thus, similar to several other pathogens, Leishmania promastigotes hijack the host cell's cytoskeleton early during the infection process. Here, we review this phenomenon and discuss the potential underlying mechanisms.

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