Functional characterization of nucleoside transporter gene replacements in Leishmania donovani

Wei Liu, Jan M. Boitz, Jon Galazka, Cassandra S. Arendt, Nicola S. Carter, Buddy Ullman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Leishmania donovani express two nucleoside transporters of non-overlapping ligand selectivity. To evaluate the physiological role of nucleoside transporters in L. donovani, homozygous null mutants of the genes encoding the LdNT1 adenosine-pyrimidine nucleoside transporter and the LdNT2 inosine-guanosine transporter were created singly and in combination by single targeted gene replacement followed by selection for loss-of-heterozygosity. The mutant alleles were verified by Southern blotting, and the effects of gene replacement on transport phenotype were evaluated by rapid sampling transport measurements and by drug resistance profiles. The Δldnt1, Δldnt2, and Δldnt1/Δldnt2 mutants were all capable of proliferation in defined culture medium supplemented with any of a spectrum of purine nucleobases or nucleosides, except that a Δldnt2 lesion conferred an inability to efficiently salvage exogenous xanthosine, a newly discovered ligand of LdNT2. Each of the three knockout strains was viable as promastigotes and axenic amastigotes and capable of maintaining an infection in J774 and bone marrow-derived murine macrophages. These genetic studies demonstrate: (1) that L. donovani promastigotes, axenic amastigotes, and tissue amastigotes are viable in the absence of nucleoside transport; (2) that nucleoside transporters are not essential for sustaining an infection in mammalian host cells; (3) that the phagolysosome of macrophages is likely to contain purines that are not LdNT1 or LdNT2 ligands, i.e., nucleobases. Furthermore, the Δldnt1, Δldnt2, and Δldnt1/Δldnt2 knockouts offer a unique genetically defined null background for the biochemical and genetic characterization of nucleoside transporter genes and cDNAs from phylogenetically diverse species and of genetically manipulated LdNT1 and LdNT2 constructs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-307
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectivity
  • Purines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Transport
  • Transporters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Molecular Biology


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