The developmental regulation and biosynthesis of GPI-related structures in Leishmania parasites

M. J. McConville, P. Schneider, L. Proudfoot, C. Masterson, M. A. Ferguson

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Most macromolecules on the surface of Leishmania parasites, including the major surface proteins and a complex lipophosphoglycan (LPG) are anchored to the plasma membrane via GPI glycolipids. Free glycoinositol-phospholipids (GIPLs) which are not linked to protein or phosphoglycan are also abundant in the plasma membrane. From structural and metabolic labeling studies it is proposed that most Leishmania species express three distinct pathways of GPI biosynthesis. Some of these pathways (i.e. those involved in the protein and LPG anchor biosynthesis) are down-regulated during the differentiation of the insect (promastigote) stage to the mammalian (amastigote) stage. In contrast, the GIPLs are expressed in high copy number in both developmental stages. Based on analysis of the lipid moieties of the different GPI species it is possible that the pathways of GPI anchor and GIPL biosynthesis are located in different subcellular compartments. The relative flux through the GIPL and LPG biosynthetic pathways has been examined in L. major promastigotes. These studies showed that while the rate of synthesis of the GIPLs and LPG is similar, LPG is shed more rapidly from the plasma membrane and has a higher turnover. The possible metabolic relationship between the GIPL and LPG biosynthetic pathways is discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-144
    Number of pages6
    JournalBrazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1994


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