Abortive infection of Lutzomyia longipalpis insect vectors by aflagellated LdARL-3A-Q70L overexpressing Leishmania amazonensis parasites

Cell Microbiol. 2003 Oct;5(10):717-28. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2003.00316.x.


Leishmania donovani ADP-ribosylation factor-like protein 3A (LdARL-3A) is a small G protein isolated from the protozoan parasite L. donovani with no defined physiological function. Previously [Cuvillier, A., Redon, F., Antoine, J.-C., Chardin, P., DeVos, T., and Merlin, G. (2000) J Cell Sci 113: 2065-2074] we have shown that overexpression in L. amazonensis promastigotes of the mutated protein LdARL-3A-Q70L, which remains constitutively associated with GTP, leads to the disappearance of the flagellum but does not impair cell viability or growth. Here we report that parasites overexpressing LdARL-3A-Q70L can invade in vitro cultivated macrophages to the same extent as control cells, demonstrating that the flagellum is not necessary for attachment to or engulfment into macrophages. These infections are productive because amastigotes differentiate and multiply. However, aflagellated LdARL-3A-Q70L-overexpressing Leishmania promastigotes could not survive in experimentally infected Lutzomyia longipalpis insect vectors, in contrast to untransfected or native LdARL-3A-overexpressing cells. Overexpression of the native and mutated proteins did not modify in vitro procyclic to metacyclic lipophosphoglycan maturation or differentiation from procyclic to metacyclic promastigotes, nevertheless there is a block in transmission of Leishmania. Better understanding of LdARL-3A pathways, notably those regarding flagellum biogenesis, may lead to the future development of Leishmania-specific drugs, which may stop parasite transmission in nature without affecting other species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Digestive System / parasitology
  • Flagella / genetics
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Glycosphingolipids / metabolism
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology*
  • Leishmania / cytology
  • Leishmania / genetics
  • Leishmania / growth & development*
  • Leishmania / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / parasitology*
  • Mice
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Psychodidae / parasitology*
  • Vacuoles / parasitology


  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • lipophosphonoglycan