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Int J Parasitol. 2005 Apr 1;35(4):419-29.

Ploidy changes associated with disruption of two adjacent genes on Leishmania major chromosome 1.

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Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, 307 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109-5219, USA.


Leishmania major Friedlin (LmjF) is a kinetoplastid protozoan whose genomic sequence has been recently elucidated. About 60% of the identified genes do not have a known function, and many are trypanosomatid-specific. Here we characterise two adjacent genes from LmjF chromosome 1 (chr1): LmjF01.0750, which encodes a predicted protein with a serine/threonine protein kinase motif and LmjF01.0760, which encodes a product with no similarity to other known proteins. Orthologues of both genes are present in Trypanosoma cruzi, but neither occur in Trypanosoma brucei. We have mapped polyadenylation and spliced-leader acceptor sites for both genes, and show that they differ between Leishmania species. Attempts to generate null mutants of LmjF01.0750 by homologous recombination were unsuccessful and led to the apparent triploidy of the entire genome, suggesting that it is an essential gene. Interestingly, at least two copies of LmjF01.0750 are required for cell survival. Further evidence of genome plasticity in Leishmania was provided by changes in chr1 copy number that occurred during in vitro growth of wild-type LmjF promastigotes and following replacement of a single copy of LmjF01.0760.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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