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Exp Parasitol. 1988 Dec;67(2):287-300.

Leishmania amazonensis: acidic organelles in amastigotes.

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Unité d'Immunophysiologie cellulaire de l'Institut Pasteur et du C.N.R.S. (UA 1113), Paris, France.


Leishmania amastigotes are intracellular protozoan parasites which exclusively invade cells of the macrophage series and multiply within phagolysosomes. Recent studies showed that intracellular and isolated amastigotes of L. amazonesis are killed by amino acid esters which appear to be trapped within as yet unidentified, possibly acidified, "lysosome-like" parasite compartments and cleaved by hydrolytic enzyme(s) (M. Rabinovitch, V. Zilberfarb, and C. Ramazeilles, 1986, Journal of Experimental Medicine 163, 520-535). In the present study, we have localized acidic compartments of Leishmania amastigotes using as a probe the weak base 3-(2,4 dinitroanilino)-3'-amino-N-methyldipropylamine (DAMP). This indicator, which can be detected within cells by light and electron microscopy using immunocytochemical immunocytochemical methods, mainly accumulates within megasomes and in dense inclusion vacuoles. With the help of quantitative assays to titrate cell-associated DAMP, it was found that (a) its uptake is temperature dependent and thus probably requires an energy supply, (b) the proton ionophore monensin partially inhibits the trapping of DAMP, and (c) monensin greatly increases its efflux from cells. These results, as well as those obtained by quantitative ultrastructural immunocytochemistry of cells incubated with DAMP in the absence or presence of monensin, show that megasomes and inclusion vacuoles have a low pH probably maintained by an active process. Furthermore, confirming the report of H. F. Hassan and G. H. Coombs (1987, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 23, 285-296) megasomes were found to display acid phosphatase activity at both light and electron microscope levels. This, together with the demonstration that megasomes are acidified, suggests that these organelles may be targets for amino acid derivatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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