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Exp Parasitol. 1989 May;68(4):423-31.

Leishmania amazonensis: involvement of cysteine proteinases in the killing of isolated amastigotes by L-leucine methyl ester.

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Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


L-leucine-methyl ester (Leu-OMe) kills Leishmania mexicana amazonensis amastigotes by a mechanism which requires proteolytic cleavage of the ester. N-Benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanyl-alanyl diazomethane (Z-Phe-AlaCHN2), a specific and irreversible inhibitor of cysteine proteinases, was used to characterize the enzymes involved in parasite destruction. It was shown that (1) amastigotes preincubated with micromolar concentrations of Z-Phe-AlaCHN2 survived challenge with Leu-OMe concentrations lethal to control parasites; (2) the proteolytic activity of 25- to 33-kDa cysteine proteinases in parasite lysates subjected to electrophoresis in gelatin-containing acrylamide gels was selectively inhibited in parasites pretreated with Z-Phe-AlaCHN2 and chased in inhibitor-free medium; and (3) cysteine proteinase activity was also inhibited in gels incubated with amino acid and dipeptide esters, possibly because the compounds were acting either as substrates (e.g., Leu-Leu-OMe) or as inhibitors (e.g., Ile-OMe) of the enzyme. The results support the involvement of low molecular weight cysteine proteinases in the destruction of amastigotes by Leu-OMe. Characterization of the structure and substrate specificity of the enzymes may permit the rational development of more selectively leishmanicidal amino acid derivatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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