A. Hübel, S. Krobitsch, A. Hörauf
Oct 1, 1997
Molecular and Cellular Biology
In Leishmania major a 100-kDa heat shock protein, Hsp100, is abundant in the intracellular amastigote stage which persists in the mammalian host. A replacement of both clpB alleles which encode Hsp100 does not affect promastigote viability under standard culture conditions but impairs thermotolerance in vitro. In experimental infections of BALB/c inbred mice, the lack of Hsp100 in the gene replacement mutants results in a markedly delayed lesion development compared with that in infections with wild-type L. major. Overexpression of exogenous clpB gene copies can partly restore virulence to the gene replacement mutants. Genetic-selection experiments also reveal a strong pressure for Hsp100 expression in the mammalian stage. This requirement for Hsp100 was also observed in in vitro infection experiments with mouse peritoneal macrophages. These experiments indicated a role for Hsp100 during the development from the promastigote to the amastigote stage. Our results suggest an important role for this parasite heat shock protein during the initial stages of a mammalian infection.