Virulent and attenuated lines of **Leishmania major** : DNA karyotypes and differences in metalloproteinase GP63Virulent and attenuated lines of **Leishmania major** : DNA karyotypes and differences in metalloproteinase GP63
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Folia parasitologica. - Prague
53(2006), p. 81-90
The Leishmania metalloproteinase GP63 has been reported to play important roles mainly in resistance of promastigotes to complement-mediated lysis and in interaction with macrophage receptors. On the other hand, its function in insect vectors is still unclear. We compared the structure and dosage of gp63 genes and the activity of GP63 in Leishmania major Yakimoff et Schokhor strains and lines differing in virulence for mice and ability to develop in sand flies. The results demonstrate considerable variability in amount and proteolytical activity of GP63 among L. major strains although genomic changes in the gp63 locus were not found. Attenuated LV561/AV line showed low amount and low enzymatic activity of GP63. Serial passages of attenuated parasites through either Phlebotomus duboscqi Neveu-Lemaire or through mice led to a recovery of GP63 proteolytical activity to the level present in virulent LV561/V line. Overexpression of GP63 was found in two L. major strains (L119, Neal) with defective lipophosphoglycan (LPG); both these strains were capable to cause mice infection but unable to survive and multiply in sand flies. Differences were found also in karyotypes and in amount of minichromosomes amplified in some lines of the LV561 strain. The results suggest that parasite virulence is not simply correlated with the activity of GP63; however, this enzyme plays a significant role in association with other surface molecules, especially LPG. Overexpression of GP63 can compensate LPG defect in the vertebrate host but in sand flies both molecules fulfil quite different functions and the defect in LPG is lethal for the parasite. On the other hand, linear minichromosomes of about 200 kb found in some lines of the LV561 strain are associated with development in vitro and in the vector but they are not essential for the infection of the vertebrate host.