Phylogeny of **Leishmania** species based on the heat-shock protein 70 gene
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Infection, genetics and evolution. - Amsterdam
, p. 238-245
University of Antwerp
The 70 kDa heat-shock protein (HSP70) is conserved across prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and the protein as well as its encoding gene have been applied in phylogenetic studies of different parasites. In spite of the frequent use of New World Leishmania species identification on the basis of restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) in the hsp70 gene, it was never sequenced extensively for studying evolutionary relationships. To fill this void we determined the nucleotide sequence of an 1380 bp fragment of the coding region commonly used in RFLP analysis, from 43 isolates and strains of different geographic origins. Combination with previously determined sequences amounted to a phylogenetic analysis including 52 hsp70 sequences representing 17 species commonly causing leishmaniasis both in the New and Old World. The genus Leishmania formed a monophyletic group with three distinct subgenera L. (Leishmania), L. (Viannia), and L. (Sauroleishmania). The obtained phylogeny supports the following eight species: L. (L.) donovani, L. (L.) major, L. (L.) tropica, L. (L.) mexicana, L. (V.) lainsoni, L. (V.) naiffi, L. (V.) guyanensis and L. (V.) braziliensis, in some of which subspecies can be recognized: L. (L.) donovani infantum, L. (V.) guyanensis panamensis, and L. (V.) braziliensis peruviana. The currently recognized L. (L.) aethiopica, L. (L.) garnhami, and L. (L.) amazonensis did not form monophyletic clusters. These findings are discussed in relation to results from other genes and proteins, which have to be integrated in order to build a genetically supported taxonomy for the entire genus.