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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2015 Mar;15(3):202-9. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2014.1736.

The flagellar protein FLAG1/SMP1 is a candidate for Leishmania-sand fly interaction.

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1 Laboratório de Biologia Molecular de Parasitas e Vetores, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz , FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil .


Leishmaniasis is a serious problem that affects mostly poor countries. Various species of Leishmania are the agents of the disease, which take different clinical manifestations. The parasite is transmitted by sandflies, predominantly from the Phlebotomus genus in the Old World and Lutzomyia in the New World. During development in the gut, Leishmania must survive various challenges, which include avoiding being expelled with blood remnants after digestion. It is believed that attachment to the gut epithelium is a necessary step for vector infection, and molecules from parasites and sand flies have been implicated in this attachment. In previous work, monoclonal antibodies were produced against Leishmania. Among these an antibody was obtained against Leishmania braziliensis flagella, which blocked the attachment of Leishmania panamensis flagella to Phlebotomus papatasi guts. The protein recognized by this antibody was identified and named FLAG1, and the complete FLAG1 gene sequence was obtained. This protein was later independently identified as a small, myristoylated protein and called SMP1, so from now on it will be denominated FLAG1/SMP1. The FLAG1/SMP1 gene is expressed in all developmental stages of the parasite, but has higher expression in promastigotes. The anti-FLAG1/SMP1 antibody recognized the flagellum of all Leishmania species tested and generated the expected band by western blots. This antibody was used in attachment and infection blocking experiments. Using the New World vector Lutzomyia longipalpis and Leishmania infantum chagasi, no inhibition of attachment ex vivo or infection in vivo was seen. On the other hand, when the Old World vectors P. papatasi and Leishmania major were used, a significant decrease of both attachment and infection were seen in the presence of the antibody. We propose that FLAG1/SMP1 is involved in the attachment/infection of Leishmania in the strict vector P. papatasi and not the permissive vector L. longipalpis.


FLAG1/SMP1; Flagellum; Leishmania; Leishmaniasis; Lutzomyia longipalpis; Phlebotomus papatasi; Sand fly; Vector–parasite interaction

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