Leishmania infantum is a protozoan parasite that is phagocytized by human macrophages. The host macrophages kill the parasite by generating oxidative compounds that induce DNA damage. We have identified, purified and biochemically characterized a DNA polymerase θ from L. infantum (LiPolθ), demonstrating that it is a DNA-dependent DNA polymerase involved in translesion synthesis of 8oxoG, abasic sites and thymine glycol lesions. Stably transfected L. infantum parasites expressing LiPolθ were significantly more resistant to oxidative and interstrand cross-linking agents, e.g. hydrogen peroxide, cisplatin and mitomycin C. Moreover, LiPolθ-overexpressing parasites showed an increased infectivity toward its natural macrophage host. Therefore, we propose that LiPolθ is a translesion synthesis polymerase involved in parasite DNA damage tolerance, to confer resistance against macrophage aggression.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.