Genetic characterization of glucose transporter function in Leishmania mexicana

Richard J.S. Burchmore, Dayana Rodriguez-Contrerast, Kathleen McBride, Michael P. Barrett, Govind Modi, David Sacks, Scott M. Landfeart

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    116 Scopus citations


    Both insect and mammalian life cycle stages of Leishmania mexicana take up glucose and express all three isoforms encoded by the LmGT glucose transporter gene family. To evaluate glucose transporter function in intact parasites, a null mutant line has been created by targeted disruption of the LmGTIocus that encompasses the LmGT1, LmGT2, and LmGT3 genes. This Δlmgt null mutant exhibited no detectable glucose transport activity. The growth rate of the Δlmgt knockout in the promastigote stage was reduced to a rate comparable with that of WT cells grown in the absence of glucose. Δlmgt cells also exhibited dramatically reduced infectivity to macrophages, demonstrating that expression of LmGT isoforms is essential for viability of amastigotes. Furthermore, WT L. mexicana were not able to grow as axenic culture form amastigotes if glucose was withdrawn from the medium, implying that glucose is an essential nutrient in this life cycle stage. Expression of either LmGT2 or LmGT3, but not of LmGT1, in Δlmgt null mutants significantly restored growth as promastigotes, but only LmGT3 expression substantially rescued amastigote growth in macrophages. Subcellular localization of the three isoforms was investigated in Δlmgt cells expressing individual LmGT isoforms. Using anti-LmGT antiserum and GFP-tagged LmGT fusion proteins, LmGT2 and LmGT3 were localized to the cell body, whereas LmGT1 was localized specifically to the flagellum. These results establish that each glucose transporter isoform has distinct biological functions in the parasite.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3901-3906
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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