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Cloning, expression and antigenicity of the L. donovani reductase

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The protozoan parasite Leishmania undergoes a morphological and biochemical transformation from the promastigote to the amastigote form during its life cycle, which is reflected in the expression of stage-specific proteins. One of these proteins shows homology to a superfamily of reductase proteins. We have cloned the reductase gene from L. donovani and have shown that it differs in only one nucleotide from the L. major homologue, resulting in one amino acid change. A cytosine (C) to guanine (G) transposition in the coding sequence leads to a nonconserved substitution of asparagine (N) for lysine (K). Only 2 of 22 plasma samples from patients with visceral leishmaniasis were found to have detectable anti-reductase antibodies and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from one of three individuals previously infected with visceral leishmaniasis proliferated in the presence of recombinant reductase protein. Interestingly, 6 of 10 PBMC isolated from Danish controls proliferated in the presence of the reductase protein. Intracellular IFNγ was found in a significant percentage of cells in all the tested PBMC cultures from Danes, whereas IL4 was only found in a small proportion of cells, or not at all. The results indicate the presence of cross-reacting CD45R0 memory T-cells in individuals not exposed to Leishmania. Several previous studies have shown that T-cells from nonexposed individuals often respond to crude Leishmania antigen preparations. The present study suggests that this reactivity is partly caused by T-cells recognising L. donovani reductase.

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Keywords: Visceral leishmaniasis; lymphocyte proliferation; reductase

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Medical Parasitology, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Copenhagen, and Departments of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), Copenhagen, Denmark an 2: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2001-06-01

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