Genome-wide gene expression profile induced by exposure to cadmium acetate in Leishmania infantum promastigotes


  • Pedro J. ALcolea
  • Ana Alonso
  • Vicente Larraga


Leishmania infantum, L. infantum promastigotes, cadmium, translation factors, DNA microarrays


Leishmania infantum is the etiological agent of visceral leishmaniasis in Mediterranean areas. The life cycle of
the protist is dimorphic and heteroxene, as promastigotes develop inside the gut of sand-fly vectors and amastigotes multiply inside mammalian phagocytic cells. In previous studies, we analyzed the expression profiles of these stages and the modulation of gene expression triggered by temperature increase and acidification, both of which are crucial in the differentiation of promastigotes to amastigotes. Differential expression profiles of translation initiation and elongation factors were detected.
Here we report that the presence of 1 mM cadmium acetate in the culture medium leads to a shock response consisting of
growth arrest, morphological changes, the absence of motility, and the up-regulation of genes that code for: a heavy metal
transporter, trypanothione reductase, a haloacid dehalogenase-like hydrolase, and a metalloexopeptidase from the M20 family, among others. This response is probably controlled by the differential expression of regulatory genes such as those encoding initiation factors 4E, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3 subunits 8 and 2α, and elongation factor 1β. The initiation factor 2α gene is induced in anomalous environments, i.e., those outside of the protist’s normal life-cycle progression, for example, in response to the presence of cadmium ions, acidification without temperature increase, and vice versa. Our results suggest that the regulation of gene expression is a key component of the shock response. [Int Microbiol 2011; 14(1):1-11]






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