Control of tubulin gene expression in the parasitic protozoan Leishmania enriettii


The life cycle of parasitic protozoa of the genus Leishmania consists of two morphologically distinct forms1: (1) amastigotes, the form of the parasite that resides inside macrophages of the mammalian host, which are non-motile and possess only a residual flagellum; and (2) promastigotes, the extracellular forms that live in the gut of the sandfly vector, which are highly motile and possess a single prominent flagellum. During the developmental transformation of amastigotes to promastigotes, the biosynthesis of α-and β-tubulin proteins is dramatically increased2, presumably to provide sufficient tubulin for synthesis and maintenance of the flagellum. We show here that the level of α-and β-tubulin mRNA in Leishmania enrietti promastigotes is significantly greater than that in amastigotes, as determined by both Northern blot analysis and by in vitro translation of cellular RNA. These results show that the regulated expression of the tubulin genes is controlled at the level of mRNA accumulation in L. enriettii, by contrast with Leishmania mexicana, in which the control of gene expression has been reported to be at the level of translation.

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Landfear, S., Wirth, D. Control of tubulin gene expression in the parasitic protozoan Leishmania enriettii. Nature 309, 716–717 (1984).

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