Chitinase Secreted by Leishmania Functions in the Sandfly Vector
Leishmania major parasites ingested with host blood by the sandfly Phlebotomus papatasi multiply confined within the peritrophic membrane. This membrane consists of a chitin framework and a protein carbohydrate matrix and it is secreted around the food by the insect midgut. Histological sections of infected flies show lysis of the chitin layer in the anterior region of the peritrophic membrane that permits the essential forward migration of a concentrated mass of parasites. Both the location and the nature of this disintegration are specific to infected flies. At a later stage the parasites concentrate in the cardiac valve region and subsequently this segment of the fore gut loses its cuticular lining. We have found that chitinase and N-acetylglucosaminidase are secreted by cultured L. major promastigotes, but not by sandfly guts. Hence lysis of the chitin layer of the peritrophic membrane could be catalysed by these enzymes of the parasites. Activity of both enzymes was also observed in other trypanosomatids, including L. donovani, L. infantum, L. braziliensis, Leptomonas seymouri, Crithidia fasciculata and Trypanosoma lewisi.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- August 1991