LmxPK4, a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase homologue of Leishmania mexicana with a potential role in parasite differentiation

Daniela Kuhn, Martin Wiese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Members of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade are important for the establishment of a Leishmania mexicana infection and are involved in flagellar length control, although the underlying molecular mechanisms remain to be elucidated. This  study  reports  the  cloning  and  characterization  of LmxPK4, a MAP kinase kinase homologue of L. mexicanadisplaying putative plant-like regulatory phosphorylation sites. The recombinant protein has autophosphorylating activity and phosphorylates myelin basic protein. An LmxPK4 gene deletion mutant showed a proliferation defect after infection of macrophages and no or delayed lesion development in mice. Irrespective of the onset of lesion development parasites showed an early and homogeneous lesion development in re-infection experiments. This is indicative for a compensation of the null mutant phenotype. Additionally, this phenotype could be reverted by reintroduction of the wild-type gene into the deletion background. Mutants expressing loss-of-function or N-terminally truncated versions of LmxPK4 retained the null mutant phenotype. LmxPK4 is stage-specifically expressed in promastigotes and during differentiation to amastigotes, but is not detectable in amastigotes isolated from the mammalian host. Moreover, its in vitro kinase activity increases with temperature rise up to 40°C. Our results suggest that LmxPK4 is involved in the differentiation process and affects virulence of Leishmania mexicana.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1182
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Volume56
Issue number5
Early online date30 Mar 2005
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2005

Keywords

  • mitogen-activated protein
  • Leishmania mexicana
  • visceral disease

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