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, 62 (1), 37-44

Two More Independent Selectable Markers for Stable Transfection of Leishmania


Two More Independent Selectable Markers for Stable Transfection of Leishmania

D J Freedman et al. Mol Biochem Parasitol.


Genetic transformation of Leishmania has relied upon two exogenous selectable markers, neo and hyg, encoding resistance to G418 and hygromycin B respectively. There is a need for multiple independent selectable markers, since Leishmania is diploid and experimental sexual crosses are not currently feasible. Here we report on the development of two additional markers: pac, conferring resistance to the glycopeptide antibiotic puromycin, and phleo, conferring resistance to the DNA-binding drug phleomycin. We constructed a set of four analogous shuttle vectors with these four markers, using DNA segments flanking the Leishmania major H region hmtxr gene to provide information required for expression. These constructs (pHM-NEO, pHM-HYG, pHM-PAC and pHM-PHLEO) were successfully transfected into L. major, mostly with efficiencies comparable to those observed with previous DHFR-TS-based neo and hyg-containing constructs. The exception was pHM-PHLEO, which transfected 30-fold less efficiently; this may be related to the nonenzymatic mechanism of resistance encoded by phleo. All four constructs were shown to replicate extra-chromosomally. Stable transfectants bearing all paired combinations of pHM constructs were obtained by a second round of transfection. These data show that the four markers are functionally independent and in conjunction with the Leishmania N-acetylglucosaminyl transferase gene, brings the number of selectable markers available in Leishmania to five.

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