[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis is the most important vector of American Visceral Leishmaniasis. Adults are phytophagous (males and females) or blood feeders (females only), and larvae feed on solid detritus. Digestion in sand fly larvae has scarcely been studied, but some glycosidase activities putatively involved in microorganism digestion were already described. Nevertheless, the molecular nature of these enzymes, as the corresponding genes and transcripts, were not explored yet. Catabolism of microbial carbohydrates in insects generally involves β-1,3-glucanases, chitinases, and digestive lysozymes. In this work, the transcripts of digestive β-1,3-glucanase and chitinases were identified in the L. longipalpis larvae throughout analysis of sequences and expression patterns of glycoside hydrolases families 16, 18, and 22. The activity of one i-type lysozyme was also registered. Interestingly, this lysozyme seems to play a role in immunity, rather than digestion. This is the first attempt to identify the molecular nature of sand fly larval digestive enzymes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Phlebotomine insects harbor bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens that can cause diseases of public health importance. Lutzomyialongipalpis is the main vector of visceral leishmaniasis in the New World. Insects can mount a powerful innate immune response to pathogens. Defensin peptides take part in this response and are known to be active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and some parasites. We studied the expression of a defensin gene from Lutzomyialongipalpis to understand its role in sand fly immune response. METHODS: We identified, sequenced and evaluated the expression of a L. longipalpisdefensin gene by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The gene sequence was compared to other vectors defensins and expression was determined along developmental stages and after exposure of adult female L. longipalpis to bacteria and Leishmania. RESULTS: Phylogenetic analysis showed that the L. longipalpisdefensin is closely related to a defensin from the Old World sand fly Phlebotomusduboscqi. Expression was high in late L4 larvae and pupae in comparison to early larval stages and newly emerged flies. Defensin expression was modulated by oral infection with bacteria. The Gram-positive Micrococcus luteus induced early high defensin expression, whilst the Gram-negative entomopathogenicSerratiamarcescens induced a later response. Bacterial injection also induced defensin expression in adult insects. Female sand flies infected orally with Leishmaniamexicana showed no significant difference in defensin expression compared to blood fed insects apart from a lower defensin expression 5 days post Leishmania infection. When Leishmania was introduced into the hemolymph by injection there was no induction of defensin expression until 72 h later. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that L. longipalpis modulates defensin expression upon bacterial and Leishmania infection, with patterns of expression that are distinct among bacterial species and routes of infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phlebotomine sand flies are the vectors of medically important Leishmania. The Leishmania protozoa reside in the sand fly gut, but the nature of the immune response to the presence of Leishmania is unknown. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a major component of insect innate immune pathways regulating gut-microbe homeostasis. Here we show that the concentration of ROS increased in sand fly midguts after they fed on the insect pathogen Serratia marcescens but not after feeding on the Leishmania that uses the sand fly as a vector. Moreover, the Leishmania is sensitive to ROS either by oral administration of ROS to the infected fly or by silencing a gene that expresses a sand fly ROS-scavenging enzyme. Finally, the treatment of sand flies with an exogenous ROS scavenger (uric acid) altered the gut microbial homeostasis, led to an increased commensal gut microbiota, and reduced insect survival after oral infection with S. marcescens. Our study demonstrates a differential response of the sand fly ROS system to gut microbiota, an insect pathogen, and the Leishmania that utilize the sand fly as a vehicle for transmission between mammalian hosts.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2012; 287(28):23995-4003. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Female phlebotomine sand flies Lutzomyia longipalpis naturally harbor populations of the medically important Leishmania infantum (syn. Leishmania chagasi) parasite in the gut, but the extent to which the parasite interacts with the immune system of the insect vector is unknown. To investigate the sand fly immune response and its interaction with the Leishmania parasite, we identified a homologue for caspar, a negative regulator of immune deficiency signaling pathway. We found that feeding antibiotics to adult female L. longipalpis resulted in an up-regulation of caspar expression relative to controls. caspar was differentially expressed when females were fed on gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial species. caspar expression was significantly down-regulated in females between 3 and 6 days after a blood feed containing Leishmania mexicana amastigotes. RNA interference was used to deplete caspar expression in female L. longipalpis, which were subsequently fed with Leishmania in a blood meal. Sand fly gut populations of both L. mexicana and L. infantum were significantly reduced in caspar-depleted females. The prevalence of L. infantum infection in the females fell from 85 to 45%. Our results provide the first insight into the operation of immune homeostasis in phlebotomine sand flies during the growth of bacterial and Leishmania populations in the digestive tract. We have demonstrated that the activation of the sand fly immune system, via depletion of a single gene, can lead to the abortion of Leishmania development and the disruption of transmission by the phlebotomine sand fly.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2012; 287(16):12985-93. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phlebotomine sand flies are vectors of Leishmania that are acquired by the female sand fly during blood feeding on an infected mammal. Leishmania parasites develop exclusively in the gut lumen during their residence in the insect before transmission to a suitable host during the next blood feed. Female phlebotomine sand flies are blood feeding insects but their life style of visiting plants as well as animals, and the propensity for larvae to feed on detritus including animal faeces means that the insect host and parasite are exposed to a range of microorganisms. Thus, the sand fly microbiota may interact with the developing Leishmania population in the gut. The aim of the study was to investigate and identify the bacterial diversity associated with wild adult female Lutzomyia sand flies from different geographical locations in the New World. The bacterial phylotypes recovered from 16S rRNA gene clone libraries obtained from wild caught adult female Lutzomyia sand flies were estimated from direct band sequencing after denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of bacterial 16 rRNA gene fragments. These results confirm that the Lutzomyia sand flies contain a limited array of bacterial phylotypes across several divisions. Several potential plant-related bacterial sequences were detected including Erwinia sp. and putative Ralstonia sp. from two sand fly species sampled from 3 geographically separated regions in Brazil. Identification of putative human pathogens also demonstrated the potential for sand flies to act as vectors of bacterial pathogens of medical importance in addition to their role in Leishmania transmission.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e42531. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The phlebotomine sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis is the most important vector of American visceral leishmaniasis (AVL), the disseminated and most serious form of the disease in Central and South America. In the natural environment, most female L. longipalpis are thought to survive for less than 10 days and will feed on blood only once or twice during their lifetime. Successful transmission of parasites occurs when a Leishmania-infected female sand fly feeds on a new host. Knowledge of factors affecting sand fly longevity that lead to a reduction in lifespan could result in a decrease in parasite transmission. Catalase has been found to play a major role in survival and fecundity in many insect species. It is a strong antioxidant enzyme that breaks down toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). Ovarian catalase was found to accumulate in the developing sand fly oocyte from 12 to 48 hours after blood feeding. Catalase expression in ovaries as well as oocyte numbers was found to decrease with age. This reduction was not found in flies when fed on the antioxidant ascorbic acid in the sugar meal, a condition that increased mortality and activation of the prophenoloxidase cascade. RNA interference was used to silence catalase gene expression in female Lu. longipalpis. Depletion of catalase led to a significant increase of mortality and a reduction in the number of developing oocytes produced after blood feeding. These results demonstrate the central role that catalase and ROS play in the longevity and fecundity of phlebotomine sand flies.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(3):e17486. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The phlebotomine sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis takes blood from a variety of wild and domestic animals and transmits Leishmania (Leishmania) infantum chagasi, etiological agent of American visceral leishmaniasis. Blood meal identification in sand flies has depended largely on serological methods but a new protocol described here uses filter-based technology to stabilise and store blood meal DNA, allowing subsequent PCR identification of blood meal sources, as well as parasite detection, in blood-fed sand flies. This technique revealed that 53.6% of field-collected sand flies captured in the back yards of houses in Teresina (Brazil) had fed on chickens. The potential applications of this technique in epidemiological studies and strategic planning for leishmaniasis control programmes are discussed.