Identification of Leishmania major cysteine proteinases as targets of the immune response in humans

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Journal Article
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 2001, 113 (1), pp. 35 - 43
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In this study, we report the identification of two parasite polypeptides recognized by human sera of patients infected with Leishmania major. Isolation and sequencing of the two genes encoding these polypeptides revealed that one of the genes is similar to the L. major cathepsin L-like gene family CPB, whereas the other gene codes for the L. major homologue of the cysteine proteinase a (CPA) of L. mexicana. By restriction enzyme digestion of genomic DNA, we show that the CPB gene is present in multiple copies in contrast to the cysteine proteinase CPA gene which could be unique. Specific antibodies directed against the mature regions of both types expressed in Escherichia coli were used to analyze the expression of these polypeptides in different stages of the parasite's life cycle. Polypeptides of 27 and 40 kDa in size, corresponding to CPA and CPB respectively, were detected at higher level in amastigotes than in stationary phase promastigotes. Purified recombinant CPs were also used to examine the presence of specific antibodies in sera from either recovered or active cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis patients. Unlike sera from healthy uninfected controls, all the sera reacted with recombinant CPA and CPB. This finding indicates that individuals having recovered from cutaneous leishmaniasis or with clinically apparent disease have humoral responses to cysteine proteinases demonstrating the importance of these proteinases as targets of the immune response and also their potential use for serodiagnosis. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
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