Considering the high incidence of galactofuranose (Galf) in pathogens and its absence from higher eukaryotes, the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of this unusual monosaccharide appear as attractive drug targets. However, although the importance of Galf in bacterial survival or pathogenesis is established, its role in eukaryotic pathogens is still undefined. Recently, we reported the identification and characterization of the first eukaryotic UDP-galactopyranose mutases. This enzyme holds a central role in Galf metabolism by providing UDP-Galf to all galactofuranosyltransferases. In this work, the therapeutical potential of Galf metabolism in Leishmania major was hence evaluated by targeted replacement of the GLF gene encoding UDP-galactopyranose mutase. In L. major, Galf is present in the membrane anchor of the lipophosphoglycan (LPG) and in glycoinositolphospholipids. Accordingly, the generated glfmutant is deficient in LPG backbone and expresses truncated glycoinositolphospholipids. These structural changes do not influence the in vitro growth of the parasite but lead to an attenuation of virulence comparable with that observed with a mutant exclusively deficient in LPG.
- bacterial survival
- eukaryotic UDP-galactopyranose mutases
- Leishmania major
- GLF gene encoding