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1.  A New Model of Progressive Visceral Leishmaniasis in Hamsters by Natural Transmission via Bites of Vector Sand Flies 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(8):1328-1338.
Background. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is transmitted by sand flies. Protection of needle-challenged vaccinated mice was abrogated in vector-initiated cutaneous leishmaniasis, highlighting the importance of developing natural transmission models for VL.
Methods. We used Lutzomyia longipalpis to transmit Leishmania infantum or Leishmania donovani to hamsters. Vector-initiated infections were monitored and compared with intracardiac infections. Body weights were recorded weekly. Organ parasite loads and parasite pick-up by flies were assessed in sick hamsters.
Results. Vector-transmitted L. infantum and L. donovani caused ≥5-fold increase in spleen weight compared with uninfected organs and had geometric mean parasite loads (GMPL) comparable to intracardiac inoculation of 107–108 parasites, although vector-initiated disease progression was slower and weight loss was greater. Only vector-initiated L. infantum infections caused cutaneous lesions at transmission and distal sites. Importantly, 45.6%, 50.0%, and 33.3% of sand flies feeding on ear, mouth, and testicular lesions, respectively, were parasite-positive. Successful transmission was associated with a high mean percent of metacyclics (66%–82%) rather than total GMPL (2.0 × 104–8.0 × 104) per midgut.
Conclusions. This model provides an improved platform to study initial immune events at the bite site, parasite tropism, and pathogenesis and to test drugs and vaccines against naturally acquired VL.
PMCID: PMC3603531  PMID: 23288926
visceral leishmaniasis; Leishmania; Lutzomyia longipalpis; sand fly; vector; transmission; bite; intracardiac
2.  Leishmania major, the Predominant Leishmania Species Responsible for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Mali 
Leishmania major is the only species of Leishmania known to cause cutaneous leishmanisis (CL) in Mali. We amplified Leishmania DNA stored on archived Giemsa-stained dermal scraping slides obtained from self-referral patients with clinically suspected CL seen in the Center National d'Appui A La Lutte Contre La Maladie (CNAM) in Bamako, Mali, to determine if any other Leishmania species were responsible for CL in Mali and evaluate its geographic distribution. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification was performed using a Leishmania species-specific primer pair that can amplify DNA from L. major, L. tropica, L. infantum, and L. donovani parasites, possible causative agents of CL in Mali. L. major was the only species detected in 41 microscopically confirmed cases of CL from five regions of Mali (Kayes, Koulikoro, Ségou, Mopti, and Tombouctou). These results implicate L. major as the predominant, possibly exclusive species responsible for CL in Mali.
PMCID: PMC3592546  PMID: 23324218
3.  Lundep, a Sand Fly Salivary Endonuclease Increases Leishmania Parasite Survival in Neutrophils and Inhibits XIIa Contact Activation in Human Plasma 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(2):e1003923.
Neutrophils are the host's first line of defense against infections, and their extracellular traps (NET) were recently shown to kill Leishmania parasites. Here we report a NET-destroying molecule (Lundep) from the salivary glands of Lutzomyia longipalpis. Previous analysis of the sialotranscriptome of Lu. longipalpis showed the potential presence of an endonuclease. Indeed, not only was the cloned cDNA (Lundep) shown to encode a highly active ss- and dsDNAse, but also the same activity was demonstrated to be secreted by salivary glands of female Lu. longipalpis. Lundep hydrolyzes both ss- and dsDNA with little sequence specificity with a calculated DNase activity of 300000 Kunitz units per mg of protein. Disruption of PMA (phorbol 12 myristate 13 acetate)- or parasite-induced NETs by treatment with recombinant Lundep or salivary gland homogenates increases parasite survival in neutrophils. Furthermore, co-injection of recombinant Lundep with metacyclic promastigotes significantly exacerbates Leishmania infection in mice when compared with PBS alone or inactive (mutagenized) Lundep. We hypothesize that Lundep helps the parasite to establish an infection by allowing it to escape from the leishmanicidal activity of NETs early after inoculation. Lundep may also assist blood meal intake by lowering the local viscosity caused by the release of host DNA and as an anticoagulant by inhibiting the intrinsic pathway of coagulation.
Author Summary
Salivary components from disease vectors help the arthropod to acquire blood. Here we show that an arthropod vector salivary enzyme affects the innate immune system of the host—mainly the destruction of neutrophil traps—allowing the Leishmania parasite to evade the host immune response and to cause an infection. This work highlights the relevance of vector salivary components in parasite transmission and further suggests the inclusion of these proteins as components for an anti-Leishmania vaccine. Importantly, because salivary proteins are always present at the site of natural transmission, this work further encourages the testing of vaccine candidates using the natural route of transmission—the bites of an arthropod vector—instead of current practices based solely on needle injection of parasites.
PMCID: PMC3916414  PMID: 24516388
4.  The Potential Economic Value of a Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Vaccine in Seven Endemic Countries in the Americas 
Vaccine  2012;31(3):480-486.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and its associated complications, including mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) and diffuse CL (DCL) have emerged as important neglected tropical diseases in Latin America, especially in areas associated with human migration, conflict, and recent deforestation. Because of the limitations of current chemotherapeutic approaches to CL, MCL, and DCL, several prototype vaccines are in different states of product and clinical development. We constructed and utilized a Markov decision analytic computer model to evaluate the potential economic value of a preventative CL vaccine in seven countries in Latin America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The results indicated that even a vaccine with a relative short duration of protection and modest efficacy could be recommended for use in targeted locations, as it could prevent a substantial number of cases at low-cost and potentially even result in cost savings. If the population in the seven countries were vaccinated using a vaccine that provides at least 10 years of protection, an estimated 41,000-144,784 CL cases could be averted, each at a cost less than the cost of current recommended treatments. Further, even a vaccine providing as little as five years duration of protection with as little as 50% efficacy remains cost-effective compared with chemotherapy; additional scenarios resembling epidemic settings such as the one that occurred in Chaparral, Colombia in 2004 demonstrates important economic benefits.
PMCID: PMC3763201  PMID: 23176979
cutaneous leishmaniasis; vaccine; economics; Latin America
5.  Analysis of salivary gland transcripts of the sand fly Lutzomyia ayacuchensis, a vector of Andean-type cutaneous leishmaniasis 
The saliva of blood sucking insects contains potent pharmacologically active components that assist them in counteracting the host hemostatic and inflammatory systems during blood feeding. In addition, sand fly salivary proteins affect host immunity and have the potential to be a vaccine against Leishmania infection. In the present study, the salivary gland transcripts of Lutzomyia ayacuchensis, a vector of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Ecuadorian and Peruvian Andes, were analyzed by sequencing randomly selected clones of the salivary gland cDNA library of this sand fly. This resulted in the identification of the most abundant transcripts coding for secreted proteins. These proteins were homologous to the salivary molecules present in other sand flies including the RGD-containing peptide, PpSP15/SL1 family protein, yellow-related protein, putative apyrase, antigen 5-related protein, D7 family protein, and 27 kDa salivary protein. Of note, homologues of maxadilan, an active vasodilator abundantly present in saliva of Lutzomyia longipalpis, were not identified. This analysis is the first description of salivary proteins from a sand fly of the subgenus Helcocyrtomyia and from vector of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the New World. The present analysis will provide further insights into the evolution of salivary components in blood sucking arthropods.
PMCID: PMC3873855  PMID: 23000112
Lutzomyia ayacuchensis; Salivary gland; Transcript; Bioinformatics; cDNA library
6.  DNA vaccination with KMP11 and Lutzomyia longipalpis salivary protein protects hamsters against visceral leishmaniasis 
Acta tropica  2011;120(3):185-190.
It was recently shown that immunization of hamsters with DNA plasmids coding LJM19, a sand fly salivary protein, partially protected against a challenge with Leishmania chagasi, whereas immunization with KMP11 DNA plasmid, a Leishmania antigen, induced protection against L. donovani infection. In the present study, we evaluated the protective effect of immunization with both LJM19 and KMP11 DNA plasmid together. Concerning the protection against an infection by L. chagasi, immunization with DNA plasmids coding LJM19 or KMP11, as well as with both plasmids combined, induced IFN-γ production in draining lymph nodes at 7, 14 and 21 days post-immunization. Immunized hamsters challenged with L. chagasi plus Salivary Gland Sonicate (SGS) from Lutzomyia longipalpis showed an enhancement of IFN-γ/IL-10 and IFN-γ/TGF-β in draining lymph nodes after 7 and 14 days of infection. Two and five months after challenge, immunized animals showed reduced parasite load in the liver and spleen, as well as increased IFN-γ/IL-10 and IFN-γ/TGF-β ratios in the spleen. Furthermore, immunized animals remained with a normal hematological profile even five months after the challenge, whereas L. chagasi in unimmunized hamsters lead to a significant anemia. The protection observed with LJM19 or KMP11 DNA plasmids used alone was very similar to the protection obtained by the combination of both plasmids.
PMCID: PMC3747832  PMID: 21875567
Hamster; Leishmania chagasi; Visceral leishmaniasis; Saliva; DNA plasmids; Protection
7.  Brazilian pemphigus foliaceus anti-desmoglein 1 autoantibodies cross-react with sand fly salivary LJM11 antigen 
The environmental factors that contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases are largely unknown. Endemic pemphigus foliaceus in humans, known as Fogo Selvagem (FS) in Brazil, is mediated by pathogenic IgG4 autoantibodies against desmoglein1 (Dsg1). Clusters of FS overlap with those of leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted by sand fly (Lutzomyia longipalpis) bites. In this study we show that salivary antigens from the sand fly, and specifically the LJM11 salivary protein, are recognized by FS antibodies. Anti-Dsg1 monoclonal autoantibodies derived from FS patients also cross-react with LJM11. Mice immunized with LJM11 generate anti-Dsg1 antibodies. Thus, insect bites may deliver salivary antigens that initiate a cross-reactive IgG4 antibody response in genetically susceptible individuals and lead to subsequent FS. Our findings establish a clear relationship between an environmental, non-infectious antigen and the development of potentially pathogenic autoantibodies in an autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC3411885  PMID: 22798673
8.  An Insight into the Sialotranscriptome of Triatoma matogrossensis, a Kissing Bug Associated with Fogo Selvagem in South America 
Triatoma matogrossensis is a Hemiptera that belongs to the oliveirai complex, a vector of Chagas' disease that feeds on vertebrate blood in all life stages. Hematophagous insects' salivary glands (SGs) produce potent pharmacologic compounds that counteract host hemostasis, including anticlotting, antiplatelet, and vasodilatory molecules. Exposure to T. matogrossensis was also found to be a risk factor associated with the endemic form of the autoimmune skin disease pemphigus foliaceus, which is described in the same regions where Chagas' disease is observed in Brazil. To obtain a further insight into the salivary biochemical and pharmacologic diversity of this kissing bug and to identify possible allergens that might be associated with this autoimmune disease, a cDNA library from its SGs was randomly sequenced. We present the analysis of a set of 2,230 (SG) cDNA sequences, 1,182 of which coded for proteins of a putative secretory nature.
PMCID: PMC3366513  PMID: 22665609
9.  Immunity to Sand Fly Salivary Protein LJM11 Modulates Host Response to Vector-Transmitted Leishmania Conferring Ulcer-Free Protection 
Leishmania vaccines that protect against needle challenge fail against the potency of a Leishmania-infected sand fly transmission. Here, we demonstrate that intradermal immunization of mice with 500 ng of the sand fly salivary recombinant protein LJM11 (rLJM11) from Lutzomyia longipalpis, in the absence of adjuvant, induces long-lasting immunity that results in ulcer-free protection against L. major delivered by vector bites. This protection is antibody independent and abrogated by depletion of CD4+ T cells. Two weeks after challenge, early induction of IFN-γ specifically to rLJM11 correlates to diminished parasite replication in protected animals. At this time point, Leishmania-specific induction of IFN-γ in these mice is low in comparison to its high level in non-protected controls. We hypothesize that early control of parasites in a Th1 environment induced by immunity to LJM11 permits the slow development of Leishmania-specific immunity in the absence of open ulcers. Leishmania-specific immunity observed five weeks post-infection in rLJM11-immunized mice shows a two-fold increase over controls in the percentage of IFN-γ-producing CD4+ T cells. We propose LJM11 as an immunomodulator that drives an efficient and controlled protective immune response to a sand fly-transmitted Leishmania somewhat mimicking “leishmanization”-induced protective immunity but without its associated lesions.
PMCID: PMC3461249  PMID: 22739793
10.  Transcriptome exploration of the sex pheromone gland of Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:56.
Molecules involved in pheromone biosynthesis may represent alternative targets for insect population control. This may be particularly useful in managing the reproduction of Lutzomyia longipalpis, the main vector of the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum in Latin America. Besides the chemical identity of the major components of the L. longipalpis sex pheromone, there is no information regarding the molecular biology behind its production. To understand this process, obtaining information on which genes are expressed in the pheromone gland is essential.
In this study we used a transcriptomic approach to explore the pheromone gland and adjacent abdominal tergites in order to obtain substantial general sequence information. We used a laboratory-reared L. longipalpis (one spot, 9-Methyl GermacreneB) population, captured in Lapinha Cave, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil for this analysis.
From a total of 3,547 cDNA clones, 2,502 high quality sequences from the pheromone gland and adjacent tissues were obtained and assembled into 1,387 contigs. Through blast searches of public databases, a group of transcripts encoding proteins potentially involved in the production of terpenoid precursors were identified in the 4th abdominal tergite, the segment containing the pheromone gland. Among them, protein-coding transcripts for four enzymes of the mevalonate pathway such as 3-hydroxyl-3-methyl glutaryl CoA reductase, phosphomevalonate kinase, diphosphomevalonate descarboxylase, and isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase were identified. Moreover, transcripts coding for farnesyl diphosphate synthase and NADP+ dependent farnesol dehydrogenase were also found in the same tergite. Additionally, genes potentially involved in pheromone transportation were identified from the three abdominal tergites analyzed.
This study constitutes the first transcriptomic analysis exploring the repertoire of genes expressed in the tissue containing the L. longipalpis pheromone gland as well as the flanking tissues. Using a comparative approach, a set of molecules potentially present in the mevalonate pathway emerge as interesting subjects for further study regarding their association to pheromone biosynthesis. The sequences presented here may be used as a reference set for future research on pheromone production or other characteristics of pheromone communication in this insect. Moreover, some matches for transcripts of unknown function may provide fertile ground of an in-depth study of pheromone-gland specific molecules.
PMCID: PMC3632494  PMID: 23497448
Lutzomyia longipalpis; Male pheromone gland; Transcriptome; Mevalonate pathway
11.  Differential salivary gland transcript expression profile in Ixodes scapularis nymphs upon feeding or flavivirus infection 
Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases  2012;3(1):18-26.
Ixodid ticks are vectors of human diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and tick-borne encephalitis. These diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide and are transmitted to humans during tick feeding. The tick-host-pathogen interface is a complex environment where host responses are modulated by the molecules in tick saliva to enable the acquisition of a blood meal. Disruption of host responses at the site of the tick bite may also provide an advantage for pathogens to survive and replicate. Thus, the molecules in tick saliva not only aid the tick in securing a nutrient-rich blood meal, but can also enhance the transmission and acquisition of pathogens. To investigate the effect of feeding and flavivirus infection on the salivary gland transcript expression profile in ticks, a first-generation microarray was developed using ESTs from a cDNA library derived from Ixodes scapularis salivary glands. When the salivary gland transcript profile in ticks feeding over the course of 3 days was compared to that in unfed ticks, a dramatic increase in transcripts related to metabolism was observed. Specifically, 578 transcripts were up-regulated compared to 151 down-regulated transcripts in fed ticks. When specific time points post attachment were analyzed, a temporal pattern of gene expression was observed. When Langat virus-infected ticks were compared to mock-infected ticks, transcript expression changes were observed at all 3 days of feeding. Differentially regulated transcripts include putative secreted proteins, lipocalins, Kunitz domain-containing proteins, anti-microbial peptides, and transcripts of unknown function. These studies identify salivary gland transcripts that are differentially regulated during feeding or in the context of flavivirus infection in Ixodes scapularis nymphs, a medically important disease vector. Further analysis of these transcripts may identify salivary factors that affect the transmission or replication of tick-borne flaviviruses.
PMCID: PMC3275779  PMID: 22309855
Tick vector; Ixodes scapularis; Nymph; Salivary gland; Gene expression; Feeding; Flavivirus
12.  Salivary Antigen SP32 Is the Immunodominant Target of the Antibody Response to Phlebotomus papatasi Bites in Humans 
Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) due to Leishmania major is highly prevalent in Tunisia and is transmitted by a hematophagous vector Phlebotomus papatasi (P. papatasi). While probing for a blood meal, the sand fly injects saliva into the host's skin, which contains a variety of compounds that are highly immunogenic. We recently showed that the presence of anti-saliva antibodies was associated with an enhanced risk for leishmaniasis and identified the immunodominant salivary protein of Phlebotomus papatasi as a protein of approximately 30 kDa.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We cloned and expressed in mammalian cells two salivary proteins PpSP30 and PpSP32 with predicted molecular weights close to 30 kDa from the Tunisian strain of P. papatasi. The two recombinant salivary proteins were purified by two-step HPLC (High-Performance Liquid Chromatography) and tested if these proteins correspond to the immunodominant antigen of 30 kDa previously shown to be recognized by human sera from endemic areas for ZCL and exposed naturally to P. papatasi bites. While recombinant PpSP30 (rPpSP30) was poorly recognized by human sera from endemic areas for ZCL, rPpSP32 was strongly recognized by the tested sera. The binding of human IgG antibodies to native PpSP32 was inhibited by the addition of rPpSP32. Consistently, experiments in mice showed that PpSP32 induced the highest levels of antibodies compared to other P. papatasi salivary molecules while PpSP30 did not induce any detectable levels of antibodies.
Our findings demonstrate that PpSP32 is the immunodominant target of the antibody response to P. papatasi saliva. They also indicate that the recombinant form of PpSP32 is similar to the native one and represents a good candidate for large scale testing of human exposure to P. papatasi bites and perhaps for assessing the risk of contracting the disease.
Author Summary
Leishmania is transmitted by female sand flies and deposited during a blood meal together with saliva. Saliva contains a vast repertoire of pharmacologically active molecules that facilitate the acquisition of the blood meal and contribute to the establishment of the infection. These molecules can induce the production of anti-saliva antibodies, which can be used as markers of exposure to the vector bite. Epidemiological studies using sand fly salivary gland extract as antigens are hampered by the difficulty in obtaining large amounts of salivary glands. In the present study, we have investigated the use of recombinant salivary proteins from the Tunisian strain of Phlebotomus papatasi, the main vector of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) in Tunisia, as an alternative method for screening of exposure to the sand fly bites. We primarily identified PpSP32 as the immunodominant protein and described the low level of polymorphisms in the amino acid sequence of the target protein. Further, we tested the suitability of using the recombinant form of this protein to estimate positive anti-saliva antibodies in serum samples of individuals from an endemic area for ZCL. Our findings indicate that this protein represents a promising epidemiological tool that can aid in implementing control measures against leishmaniasis.
PMCID: PMC3510156  PMID: 23209854
13.  Nucleosides from Phlebotomus papatasi salivary gland ameliorate murine collagen-induced arthritis by impairing dendritic cell functions 
Among several pharmacological compounds, Phlebotomine saliva contains substances with anti-inflammatory properties. Herein, we demonstrated the therapeutic activity of salivary gland extract (SGE) of Phlebotomus papatasi in an experimental model of arthritis (collagen-induced arthritis [CIA]) and identified the constituents responsible for such activity. Daily administration of SGE, initiated at disease onset, attenuated the severity of CIA, reducing the joint lesion and pro-inflammatory cytokines release. In vitro incubation of dendritic cells (DC) with SGE limited specific CD4+Th17 cell response. We identified adenosine (ADO) and adenosine monophosphate (5′AMP) as the major salivary molecules responsible for anti-inflammatory activities. Pharmacologic inhibition of ADO A2A receptor or enzymatic catabolism of salivary nucleosides reversed the SGE-induced immunosuppressive effect. Importantly, CD73 (ecto-5′nucleotidase enzyme) is expressed on DC surface during stage of activation, suggesting that ADO is also generated by 5′AMP metabolism. Moreover, both nucleosides mimicked SGE-induced anti-inflammatory activity upon DC function in vitro and attenuated establishment of CIA in vivo. We reveal that ADO and 5′AMP are present in pharmacological amounts in P. papatasi saliva and act preferentially on DC function, consequently reducing Th17 subset activation and suppressing the autoimmune response. Thus, it is plausible that these constituents might be promising therapeutic molecules to target immune inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3195336  PMID: 21930966
14.  The protein LJM 111 from Lutzomyia longipalpis Salivary Gland Extract (SGE) accounts for the SGE-inhibitory effects upon inflammatory parameters in experimental arthritis model 
International immunopharmacology  2012;12(4):603-610.
Several studies have pointed out the immunomodulatory properties of the Salivary Gland Extract (SGE) from Lutzomyia longipalpis. We aimed to identify the SGE component (s) responsible for its effect on ovalbumin (OVA)-induced neutrophil migration (NM) and to evaluate the effect of SGE and components in the antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) model. We tested the anti-arthritic activities of SGE and the recombinant LJM111 salivary protein (rLJM111) by measuring the mechanical hypernociception and the NM into synovial cavity. Furthermore, we measured IL-17, TNF-α and IFN-γ released by lymph nodes cells stimulated with mBSA or anti-CD3 using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Additionally, we tested the effect of SGE and rLJM111 on co-stimulatory molecules expression (MHC-II and CD-86) by flow cytometry, TNF-α and IL-10 production (ELISA) of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) stimulated with LPS, chemotaxis and actin polymerization from neutrophils. Besides, the effect of SGE on CXCR2 and GRK-2 expression on neutrophils was investigated. We identified one plasmid expressing the protein LJM111 that prevented NM in OVA-challenged immunized mice. Furthermore, both SGE and rLJM111 inhibited NM and pain sensitivity in AIA and reduced IL-17, TNF-α and IFN-γ. SGE and rLJM111 also reduced MHC-II and CD-86 expression and TNF-α whereas increased IL-10 release by LPS-stimulated BMDCs. SGE, but not LJM 111, inhibited neutrophils chemotaxis and actin polymerization. Additionally, SGE reduced neutrophil CXCR2 expression and increased GRK-2. Thus, rLJM111 is partially responsible for SGE mechanisms by diminishing DC function and maturation but not chemoattraction of neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC3438676  PMID: 22366405
LJM 111 protein; Salivary gland extract; Arthritis; Chemotaxis
15.  Vaccines to combat the neglected tropical diseases 
Immunological reviews  2011;239(1):237-270.
The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) represent a group of parasitic and related infectious diseases such as amebiasis, Chagas disease, cysticercosis, echinococcosis, hookworm, leishmaniasis, and schistosomiasis. Together, these conditions are considered the most common infections in low- and middle-income countries, where they produce a level of global disability and human suffering equivalent to better known conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and malaria. Despite their global public health importance, progress on developing vaccines for NTD pathogens has lagged because of some key technical hurdles and the fact that these infections occur almost exclusively in the world’s poorest people living below the World Bank poverty line. In the absence of financial incentives for new products, the multinational pharmaceutical companies have not embarked on substantive research and development programs for the neglected tropical disease vaccines. Here, we review the current status of scientific and technical progress in the development of new neglected tropical disease vaccines, highlighting the successes that have been achieved (cysticercosis and echinococcosis) and identifying the challenges and opportunities for development of new vaccines for NTDs. Also highlighted are the contributions being made by non-profit product development partnerships that are working to overcome some of the economic challenges in vaccine manufacture, clinical testing, and global access.
PMCID: PMC3438653  PMID: 21198676
neglected tropical diseases; tropical diseases; vaccines; parasitic vaccines
16.  Lufaxin, a Novel Factor Xa Inhibitor from the Salivary Gland of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis, Blocks PAR2 Activation and Inhibits Inflammation and Thrombosis in Vivo 
Blood-sucking arthropods salivary glands (SGs) contain a remarkable diversity of antihemostatics. The aim of this study was to identify the unique salivary anticoagulant of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis, which remained elusive for decades.
Methods and Results
Several L. longipalpis salivary proteins were expressed in HEK293 cells and screened for inhibition of blood coagulation. A novel 32.4-kDa molecule, named Lufaxin, was identified as a slow, tight, non-competitive, and reversible inhibitor of Factor Xa (FXa). Notably, Lufaxin primary sequence does not share similarity to any physiological or salivary inhibitors of coagulation reported to date. Lufaxin is specific for FXa and does not interact with FX, DEGR- FXa, or 15 other enzymes. In addition, Lufaxin blocks prothrombinase and increases both PT and aPTT. Surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed that FXa binds Lufaxin with a KD ~3 nM, and isothermal titration calorimetry determined a stoichiometry of 1:1. Lufaxin also prevents PAR2 activation by FXa in the MDA-MB-231 cell line and abrogates edema formation triggered by injection of FXa in the paw of mice. Moreover, Lufaxin prevents FeCl3-induced carotid artery thrombus formation and prolongs aPTT ex vivo, implying that it works as an anticoagulant in vivo. Finally, SG of sandflies was found to inhibit FXa and to interact with the enzyme.
Lufaxin belongs to a novel family of slow-tight FXa inhibitors, which display antithrombotic and antiinflamatory activities. It is a useful tool to understand FXa structural features and its role in pro-hemostatic and pro-inflammatory events.
PMCID: PMC3421056  PMID: 22796577
hematophagy; thrombosis; leishmaniasis; vector biology; microcirculation
17.  Kinetics of Antibody Response in BALB/c and C57BL/6 Mice Bitten by Phlebotomus papatasi 
Phlebotomine sand flies are blood-sucking insects transmitting Leishmania parasites. In bitten hosts, sand fly saliva elicits specific immune response and the humoral immunity was shown to reflect the intensity of sand fly exposure. Thus, anti-saliva antibodies were suggested as the potential risk marker of Leishmania transmission. In this study, we examined the long-term kinetics and persistence of anti-Phlebotomus papatasi saliva antibody response in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. We also tested the reactivity of mice sera with P. papatasi salivary antigens and with the recombinant proteins.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Sera of BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice experimentally bitten by Phlebotomus papatasi were tested by ELISA for the presence of anti-saliva IgE, IgG and its subclasses. We detected a significant increase of specific IgG and IgG1 in both mice strains and IgG2b in BALB/c mice that positively correlated with the number of blood-fed P. papatasi females. Using western blot and mass spectrometry we identified the major P. papatasi antigens as Yellow-related proteins, D7-related proteins, antigen 5-related proteins and SP-15-like proteins. We therefore tested the reactivity of mice sera with four P. papatasi recombinant proteins coding for most of these potential antigens (PpSP44, PpSP42, PpSP30, and PpSP28). Each mouse serum reacted with at least one of the recombinant protein tested, although none of the recombinant proteins were recognized by all sera.
Our data confirmed the concept of using anti-sand fly saliva antibodies as a marker of sand fly exposure in Phlebotomus papatasi–mice model. As screening of specific antibodies is limited by the availability of salivary gland homogenate, utilization of recombinant proteins in such studies would be beneficial. Our present work demonstrates the feasibility of this implementation. A combination of recombinant salivary proteins is recommended for evaluation of intensity of sand fly exposure in endemic areas and for estimation of risk of Leishmania transmission.
Author Summary
Leishmania major is the causative agent of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis and Phlebotomus papatasi serve as the major vector. In endemic foci, rodents are the natural reservoirs of this disease. Thus, we studied anti-P. papatasi saliva antibody response in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice that are commonly used as model organisms sensitive and resistant to cutaneous leishmaniasis, respectively. We followed the kinetics and persistence of specific antibody response in both mice strains and we characterized the main P. papatasi salivary antigens. We demonstrated that sand fly bites elicit production of specific IgG that reflect the intensity of sand fly exposure. In endemic areas, this could provide useful information about the effectiveness of anti-vector control programs. We also examined the reaction of mice sera with four P. papatasi recombinant proteins. Our data indicate that a combination of these proteins could be used instead of crude salivary gland homogenate for the monitoring of anti-sand fly saliva antibodies in natural hosts in endemic foci.
PMCID: PMC3393673  PMID: 22802977
20.  A Linkage Map of the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) Based on cDNA Markers 
Journal of Heredity  2010;102(1):102-112.
The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus (Skuse), is an important vector of a number of arboviruses, and populations exhibit extreme variation in adaptive traits such as egg diapause, cold hardiness, and autogeny (ability to mature a batch of eggs without blood feeding). The genetic basis of some of these traits has been established, but lack of a high-resolution linkage map has prevented in-depth genetic analyses of the genes underlying these complex traits. We report here on the breeding of 4 F1 intercross mapping families and the use of these to locate 35 cDNA markers to the A. albopictus linkage map. The present study increases the number of markers on the A. albopictus cDNA linkage map from 38 to 73 and the density of markers from 1 marker/5.7 cM to 1 marker/2.9 cM and adds 9, 16, and 10 markers to the 3 linkage groups, respectively. The overall lengths of the 3 linkage groups are 64.5, 76.5, and 71.6 cM, respectively, for a combined length of 212.6 cM. Despite conservation in the order of most genes among the 4 families and a previous mapping family, we found substantial heterogeneity in the amount of recombination among markers. This was most marked in linkage group I, which varied between 16.7 and 69.3 cM. A map integrating the results from these 4 families with an earlier cDNA linkage map is presented.
PMCID: PMC3001962  PMID: 21148282
Aedes albopictus; cDNA markers; linkage map; SSCP analysis
21.  Role of CCL3/MIP-1α and CCL5/RANTES during acute Trypanosoma cruzi infection in rats 
Chagas’ disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi infection and is characterized by chronic fibrogenic inflammation and heart dysfunction. Chemokines are produced during infection and drive tissue inflammation. In rats, acute infection is characterized by intense myocarditis and regression of inflammation after control of parasitism. We investigated the role of CCL3 and CCL5 during infection by using DNA vaccination encoding for each chemokine separately or simultaneously. MetRANTES treatment was used to evaluate the role of CCR1 and CCR5, the receptors for CCL3 and CCL5. Vaccination with CCL3 or CCL5 increased heart parasitism and decreased local IFN-γ production, but did not influence intensity of inflammation. Simultaneous treatment with both plasmids or treatment with MetRANTES enhanced cardiac inflammation, fibrosis and parasitism. In conclusion, chemokines CCL3 and CCL5 are relevant, but not essential, for control of T. cruzi infection in rats. On the other hand, combined blockade of these chemokines or their receptors enhanced tissue inflammation and fibrosis, clearly contrasting with available data in murine models of T. cruzi infection. These data reinforce the important role of chemokines during T. cruzi infection but suggest that caution must be taken when expanding the therapeutic modulation of the chemokine system in mice to the human infection.
PMCID: PMC3166703  PMID: 20452453
Chemokines; CCR5; Trypanosoma cruzi; Myocarditis
22.  An insight into the sialome of the bed bug, Cimex lectularius 
Journal of proteome research  2010;9(8):3820-3831.
The evolution of insects to a blood diet leads to the development of a saliva that antagonizes their hosts' hemostasis and inflammation. Hemostasis and inflammation are redundant processes, and thus a complex salivary potion comprised of dozens or near one hundred different polypeptides is commonly found by transcriptome or proteome analysis of these organisms. Several insect orders or families evolved independently to hematophagy creating unique salivary potions in the form of novel pharmacological use of endogenous substances, and in the form of unique proteins not matching other known proteins, these probably arriving by fast evolution of salivary proteins as they evade their hosts' immune response. In this work we present a preliminary description of the sialome (from the Greek Sialo = saliva) of the common bed bug Cimex lectularius, the first such work from a member of the Cimicidae family. This manuscript is a guide for the supplemental database files and
PMCID: PMC2917537  PMID: 20441151
Bedbug; saliva; salivary transcriptome; salivary proteome
23.  An Insight into the Sialotranscriptome of Simulium nigrimanum, a Black Fly Associated with Fogo Selvagem in South America 
Pemphigus foliaceus is a life threatening skin disease that is associated with autoimmunity to desmoglein, a skin protein involved in the adhesion of keratinocytes. This disease is endemic in certain areas of South America, suggesting the mediation of environmental factors triggering autoimmunity. Among the possible environmental factors, exposure to bites of black flies, in particular Simulium nigrimanum has been suggested. In this work, we describe the sialotranscriptome of adult female S. nigrimanum flies. It reveals the complexity of the salivary potion of this insect, comprised by over 70 distinct genes within over 30 protein families, including several novel families, even when compared with the previously described sialotranscriptome of the autogenous black fly, S. vittatum. The uncovering of this sialotranscriptome provides a platform for testing pemphigus patient sera against recombinant salivary proteins from S. nigrimanum and for the discovery of novel pharmacologically active compounds.
PMCID: PMC2877412  PMID: 20519601
24.  Lutzomyia longipalpis Saliva or Salivary Protein LJM19 Protects against Leishmania braziliensis and the Saliva of Its Vector, Lutzomyia intermedia 
Leishmania transmission occurs in the presence of insect saliva. Immunity to Phlebotomus papatasi or Lutzomyia longipalpis saliva or salivary components confers protection against an infection by Leishmania in the presence of the homologous saliva. However, immunization with Lutzomyia intermedia saliva did not protect mice against Leishmania braziliensis plus Lu. intermedia saliva. In the present study, we have studied whether the immunization with Lu. longipalpis saliva or a DNA plasmid coding for LJM19 salivary protein would be protective against L. braziliensis infection in the presence of Lu. intermedia saliva, the natural vector for L. braziliensis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Immunization with Lu. longipalpis saliva or with LJM19 DNA plasmid induced a Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity (DTH) response against Lu. longipalpis as well as against a Lu. intermedia saliva challenge. Immunized and unimmunized control hamsters were then intradermally infected in the ears with L. braziliensis in the presence of Lu. longipalpis or Lu. intermedia saliva. Animals immunized with Lu. longipalpis saliva exhibited smaller lesion sizes as well as reduced disease burdens both at lesion site and in the draining lymph nodes. These alterations were associated with a significant decrease in the expression levels of IL-10 and TGF-β. Animals immunized with LJM19 DNA plasmid presented similar findings in protection and immune response and additionally increased IFN-γ expression.
Immunization with Lu. longipalpis saliva or with a DNA plasmid coding LJM19 salivary protein induced protection in hamsters challenged with L. braziliensis plus Lu. intermedia saliva. These findings point out an important role of immune response against saliva components, suggesting the possibility to develop a vaccine using a single component of Lu. longipalpis saliva to generate protection against different species of Leishmania, even those transmitted by a different vector.
Author Summary
Leishmaniasis, caused by parasitic protozoa Leishmania, is transmitted by bites of female sand flies that, during blood-feeding, inject humans with parasites and saliva. Sand fly saliva has been investigated as a potential vaccine candidate. It was previously shown that immunization with Lutzomyia longipalpis saliva or salivary proteins protects against cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis. In the present study, we evaluated if immunization with Lu. longipalpis saliva or DNA plasmid coding for a specific sand fly salivary protein (LJM19) can protect hamsters against L. braziliensis plus another sand fly saliva. Immunization with saliva or LJM19 DNA plasmid induced a mononuclear cell infiltrate which can be a marker of protection. The immune response induced by immunization with these insect molecules was able to protect animals against L. braziliensis infection as shown by the significant reduction in lesion size, parasite load in the ear and draining lymph node. These data show the important role of immune response against sand fly saliva components, suggesting the possibility to develop vaccines using a single component of saliva against Leishmania transmitted by different vectors.
PMCID: PMC3104964  PMID: 21655303
25.  The midgut transcriptome of Phlebotomus (Larroussius) perniciosus, a vector of Leishmania infantum: comparison of sugar fed and blood fed sand flies 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:223.
Parasite-vector interactions are fundamental in the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as leishmaniasis. Leishmania development in the vector sand fly is confined to the digestive tract, where sand fly midgut molecules interact with the parasites. In this work we sequenced and analyzed two midgut-specific cDNA libraries from sugar fed and blood fed female Phlebotomus perniciosus and compared the transcript expression profiles.
A total of 4111 high quality sequences were obtained from the two libraries and assembled into 370 contigs and 1085 singletons. Molecules with putative roles in blood meal digestion, peritrophic matrix formation, immunity and response to oxidative stress were identified, including proteins that were not previously reported in sand flies. These molecules were evaluated relative to other published sand fly transcripts. Comparative analysis of the two libraries revealed transcripts differentially expressed in response to blood feeding. Molecules up regulated by blood feeding include a putative peritrophin (PperPer1), two chymotrypsin-like proteins (PperChym1 and PperChym2), a putative trypsin (PperTryp3) and four putative microvillar proteins (PperMVP1, 2, 4 and 5). Additionally, several transcripts were more abundant in the sugar fed midgut, such as two putative trypsins (PperTryp1 and PperTryp2), a chymotrypsin (PperChym3) and a microvillar protein (PperMVP3). We performed a detailed temporal expression profile analysis of the putative trypsin transcripts using qPCR and confirmed the expression of blood-induced and blood-repressed trypsins. Trypsin expression was measured in Leishmania infantum-infected and uninfected sand flies, which identified the L. infantum-induced down regulation of PperTryp3 at 24 hours post-blood meal.
This midgut tissue-specific transcriptome provides insight into the molecules expressed in the midgut of P. perniciosus, an important vector of visceral leishmaniasis in the Old World. Through the comparative analysis of the libraries we identified molecules differentially expressed during blood meal digestion. Additionally, this study provides a detailed comparison to transcripts of other sand flies. Moreover, our analysis of putative trypsins demonstrated that L. infantum infection can reduce the transcript abundance of trypsin PperTryp3 in the midgut of P. perniciosus.
PMCID: PMC3107814  PMID: 21569254

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