Approaches for the identification of potential excreted/secreted proteins of Leishmania major parasites

M. CHENIK a1c1 1 , S. LAKHAL a1 1 , N. BEN KHALEF a1, L. ZRIBI a1, H. LOUZIR a1 and K. DELLAGI a1
a1 WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Leishmaniasis, Laboratoire d'Immunopathologie, Vaccinologie et Génétique Moléculaire, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, 13, Place Pasteur 1002 Tunis-Belvédére, Tunisia

Article author query
chenik m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lakhal s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ben khalef n   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
zribi l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
louzir h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
dellagi k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Leishmania parasites are able to survive in host macrophages despite the harsh phagolysosomal vacuoles conditions. This could reflect, in part, their capacity to secrete proteins that may play an essential role in the establishment of infection and serve as targets for cellular immune responses. To characterize Leishmania major proteins excreted/secreted early after promastigote entry into the host macrophage, we have generated antibodies against culture supernatants of stationary-phase promastigotes collected 6 h after incubation in conditions that partially reproduce those prevailing in the parasitophorous vacuole. The screening of an L. major cDNA library with these antibodies led us to isolate 33 different cDNA clones that we report here. Sequence analysis revealed that the corresponding proteins could be classified in 3 groups: 9 proteins have been previously described as excreted/secreted in Leishmania and/or other species; 11 correspond to known proteins already characterized in Leishmania and/or other species although it is unknown whether they are excreted/secreted and 13 code for unknown proteins. Interestingly, the latter are transcribed as shown by RT-PCR and some of them are stage regulated. The L. major excreted/secreted proteins may constitute putative virulence factors, vaccine candidates and/or new drug targets.

(Received August 17 2005)
(Revised September 28 2005)
(Accepted October 14 2005)
(January 3 2006)

Key Words: Leishmania major; excreted/secreted proteins; virulence; drug target; vaccine candidates; gene expression.

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1 M. Chenik and S. Lakhal contributed equally to this study.