July 7, 2019  |  

Drug resistance analysis by next generation sequencing in Leishmania.

The use of next generation sequencing has the power to expedite the identification of drug resistance determinants and biomarkers and was applied successfully to drug resistance studies in Leishmania. This allowed the identification of modulation in gene expression, gene dosage alterations, changes in chromosome copy numbers and single nucleotide polymorphisms that correlated with resistance in Leishmania strains derived from the laboratory and from the field. An impressive heterogeneity at the population level was also observed, individual clones within populations often differing in both genotypes and phenotypes, hence complicating the elucidation of resistance mechanisms. This review summarizes the most recent highlights that whole genome sequencing brought to our understanding of Leishmania drug resistance and likely new directions.


July 7, 2019  |  

Defining the sequence requirements for the positioning of base J in DNA using SMRT sequencing.

Base J (ß-D-glucosyl-hydroxymethyluracil) replaces 1% of T in the Leishmania genome and is only found in telomeric repeats (99%) and in regions where transcription starts and stops. This highly restricted distribution must be co-determined by the thymidine hydroxylases (JBP1 and JBP2) that catalyze the initial step in J synthesis. To determine the DNA sequences recognized by JBP1/2, we used SMRT sequencing of DNA segments inserted into plasmids grown in Leishmania tarentolae. We show that SMRT sequencing recognizes base J in DNA. Leishmania DNA segments that normally contain J also picked up J when present in the plasmid, whereas control sequences did not. Even a segment of only 10 telomeric (GGGTTA) repeats was modified in the plasmid. We show that J modification usually occurs at pairs of Ts on opposite DNA strands, separated by 12 nucleotides. Modifications occur near G-rich sequences capable of forming G-quadruplexes and JBP2 is needed, as it does not occur in JBP2-null cells. We propose a model whereby de novo J insertion is mediated by JBP2. JBP1 then binds to J and hydroxylates another T 13 bp downstream (but not upstream) on the complementary strand, allowing JBP1 to maintain existing J following DNA replication. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 7, 2019  |  

Modulation of aneuploidy in Leishmania donovani during adaptation to different in vitro and in vivo environments and its impact on gene expression.

Aneuploidy is usually deleterious in multicellular organisms but appears to be tolerated and potentially beneficial in unicellular organisms, including pathogens. Leishmania, a major protozoan parasite, is emerging as a new model for aneuploidy, since in vitro-cultivated strains are highly aneuploid, with interstrain diversity and intrastrain mosaicism. The alternation of two life stages in different environments (extracellular promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes) offers a unique opportunity to study the impact of environment on aneuploidy and gene expression. We sequenced the whole genomes and transcriptomes of Leishmania donovani strains throughout their adaptation to in vivo conditions mimicking natural vertebrate and invertebrate host environments. The nucleotide sequences were almost unchanged within a strain, in contrast to highly variable aneuploidy. Although high in promastigotes in vitro, aneuploidy dropped significantly in hamster amastigotes, in a progressive and strain-specific manner, accompanied by the emergence of new polysomies. After a passage through a sand fly, smaller yet consistent karyotype changes were detected. Changes in chromosome copy numbers were correlated with the corresponding transcript levels, but additional aneuploidy-independent regulation of gene expression was observed. This affected stage-specific gene expression, downregulation of the entire chromosome 31, and upregulation of gene arrays on chromosomes 5 and 8. Aneuploidy changes in Leishmania are probably adaptive and exploited to modulate the dosage and expression of specific genes; they are well tolerated, but additional mechanisms may exist to regulate the transcript levels of other genes located on aneuploid chromosomes. Our model should allow studies of the impact of aneuploidy on molecular adaptations and cellular fitness.IMPORTANCE Aneuploidy is usually detrimental in multicellular organisms, but in several microorganisms, it can be tolerated and even beneficial. Leishmania-a protozoan parasite that kills more than 30,000 people each year-is emerging as a new model for aneuploidy studies, as unexpectedly high levels of aneuploidy are found in clinical isolates. Leishmania lacks classical regulation of transcription at initiation through promoters, so aneuploidy could represent a major adaptive strategy of this parasite to modulate gene dosage in response to stressful environments. For the first time, we document the dynamics of aneuploidy throughout the life cycle of the parasite, in vitro and in vivo We show its adaptive impact on transcription and its interaction with regulation. Besides offering a new model for aneuploidy studies, we show that further genomic studies should be done directly in clinical samples without parasite isolation and that adequate methods should be developed for this. Copyright © 2017 Dumetz et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Resequencing of the Leishmania infantum (strain JPCM5) genome and de novo assembly into 36 contigs.

Leishmania parasites are the causative of leishmaniasis, a group of potentially fatal human diseases. Control strategies for leishmaniasis can be enhanced by genome based investigations. The publication in 2005 of the Leishmania major genome sequence, and two years later the genomes for the species Leishmania braziliensis and Leishmania infantum were major milestones. Since then, the L. infantum genome, although highly fragmented and incomplete, has been used widely as the reference genome to address whole transcriptomics and proteomics studies. Here, we report the sequencing of the L. infantum genome by two NGS methodologies and, as a result, the complete genome assembly on 36 contigs (chromosomes). Regarding the present L. infantum genome-draft, 495 new genes have been annotated, a hundred have been corrected and 75 previous annotated genes have been discontinued. These changes are not only the result of an increase in the genome size, but a significant contribution derives from the existence of a large number of incorrectly assembled regions in current chromosomal scaffolds. Furthermore, an improved assembly of tandemly repeated genes has been obtained. All these analyses support that the de novo assembled L. infantum genome represents a robust assembly and should replace the currently available in the databases.


July 7, 2019  |  

In vitro selection of miltefosine resistance in promastigotes of Leishmania donovani from Nepal: genomic and metabolomic characterization.

In this study, we followed the genomic, lipidomic and metabolomic changes associated with the selection of miltefosine (MIL) resistance in two clinically derived Leishmania donovani strains with different inherent resistance to antimonial drugs (antimony sensitive strain Sb-S; and antimony resistant Sb-R). MIL-R was easily induced in both strains using the promastigote-stage, but a significant increase in MIL-R in the intracellular amastigote compared to the corresponding wild-type did not occur until promastigotes had adapted to 12.2 µM MIL. A variety of common and strain-specific genetic changes were discovered in MIL-adapted parasites, including deletions at the LdMT transporter gene, single-base mutations and changes in somy. The most obvious lipid changes in MIL-R promastigotes occurred to phosphatidylcholines and lysophosphatidylcholines and results indicate that the Kennedy pathway is involved in MIL resistance. The inherent Sb resistance of the parasite had an impact on the changes that occurred in MIL-R parasites, with more genetic changes occurring in Sb-R compared with Sb-S parasites. Initial interpretation of the changes identified in this study does not support synergies with Sb-R in the mechanisms of MIL resistance, though this requires an enhanced understanding of the parasite’s biochemical pathways and how they are genetically regulated to be verified fully. © 2015 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 7, 2019  |  

Species- and strain-specific adaptation of the HSP70 super family in pathogenic trypanosomatids.

All eukaryotic genomes encode multiple members of the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) family, which evolved distinctive structural and functional features in response to specific environmental constraints. Phylogenetic analysis of this protein family thus can inform on genetic and molecular mechanisms that drive species-specific environmental adaptation. Here we use the eukaryotic pathogen Leishmania spp. as a model system to investigate the evolution of the HSP70 protein family in an early-branching eukaryote that is prone to gene amplification and adapts to cytotoxic host environments by stress-induced and chaperone-dependent stage differentiation. Combining phylogenetic and comparative analyses of trypanosomatid genomes, draft genome of Paratrypanosoma and recently published genome sequences of 204 L. donovani field isolates, we gained unique insight into the evolutionary dynamics of the Leishmania HSP70 protein family. We provide evidence for (i) significant evolutionary expansion of this protein family in Leishmania through gene amplification and functional specialization of highly conserved canonical HSP70 members, (ii) evolution of trypanosomatid-specific, non-canonical family members that likely gained ATPase-independent functions, and (iii) loss of one atypical HSP70 member in the Trypanosoma genus. Finally, we reveal considerable copy number variation of canonical cytoplasmic HSP70 in highly related L. donovani field isolates, thus identifying this locus as a potential hot spot of environment-genotype interaction. Our data draw a complex picture of the genetic history of HSP70 in trypanosomatids that is driven by the remarkable plasticity of the Leishmania genome to undergo massive intra-chromosomal gene amplification to compensate for the absence of regulated transcriptional control in these parasites. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


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