Expression Profile of Genes Related to the Th17 Pathway in Macrophages Infected by Leishmania major and Leishmania amazonensis: The Use of Gene Regulatory Networks in Modeling This Pathway

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2022 Jun 14;12:826523. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2022.826523. eCollection 2022.


Leishmania amazonensis and Leishmania major are the causative agents of cutaneous and mucocutaneous diseases. The infections' outcome depends on host-parasite interactions and Th1/Th2 response, and in cutaneous form, regulation of Th17 cytokines has been reported to maintain inflammation in lesions. Despite that, the Th17 regulatory scenario remains unclear. With the aim to gain a better understanding of the transcription factors (TFs) and genes involved in Th17 induction, in this study, the role of inducing factors of the Th17 pathway in Leishmania-macrophage infection was addressed through computational modeling of gene regulatory networks (GRNs). The Th17 GRN modeling integrated experimentally validated data available in the literature and gene expression data from a time-series RNA-seq experiment (4, 24, 48, and 72 h post-infection). The generated model comprises a total of 10 TFs, 22 coding genes, and 16 cytokines related to the Th17 immune modulation. Addressing the Th17 induction in infected and uninfected macrophages, an increase of 2- to 3-fold in 4-24 h was observed in the former. However, there was a decrease in basal levels at 48-72 h for both groups. In order to evaluate the possible outcomes triggered by GRN component modulation in the Th17 pathway. The generated GRN models promoted an integrative and dynamic view of Leishmania-macrophage interaction over time that extends beyond the analysis of single-gene expression.

Keywords: Leishmania–macrophage interaction; Th17; expression profiling; gene regulatory network (GRN); immune modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Leishmania major*
  • Leishmania mexicana* / genetics
  • Leishmania mexicana* / metabolism
  • Leishmaniasis*
  • Macrophages


  • Cytokines