Genomic polymorphism of **Leishmania infantum** : a relationship with clinical pleomorphism?
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Infection, genetics and evolution. - Amsterdam
, p. 49-59
Leishmania infantum is the etiological agent of visceral (VL) and a cutaneous form (CL) of leishmaniasis around the Mediterranean Basin. In order to document the parasite genetic background corresponding to this clinical diversity, chromosome size polymorphism was analysed in 32 French isolates (18 CL and 14 VL) originating from the Cévennes and the Pyrénées Orientales (PO), and corresponding to zymodemes MON-1 and MON-29. Five chromosomes bearing tandemly repeated genes encoding for important antigens (gp63, PSA-2 and K39) or key metabolic functions (mini-exon and rDNA) were studied. Significant size variation (100270 kbp) was observed for chromosomes bearing mini-exon, PSA-2 and rDNA genes, which involved variation in copy number of corresponding genes. The two other chromosomes showed smaller size-variation and did not involve dosage of gp63 and K39 genes. Chromosomal size showed correlation with geography and clinical origin: (i) chromosome 2 (mini-exon) was found to be significantly smaller in the PO; (ii) chromosomes 12 (PSA-2) and 27 (rDNA) were significantly smaller in the strictly cutaneous MON-29 isolates. Gene rearrangements and their synergistic effects on the phenotypic expression of the parasite are discussed.