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The novel leishmanial Copper P-type ATPase plays a vital role in intracellular parasite survival

Copper is essential for all life forms; however in excess it is extremely toxic. Toxic properties of copper are utilized by hosts against various pathogenic invasions. Leishmania, in its both free-living and intracellular forms, was found to exhibit appreciable tolerance towards copper-stress. To determine the mechanism of copper-stress evasion employed by Leishmania we identified and characterized the hitherto unknown Copper-ATPase in Leishmania major and determined its role in parasites survival in host macrophage cells. L. major Cu-ATPase, LmATP7, exhibits high homology with its orthologues at multiple conserved motifs. In promastigotes, LmATP7 localized to the plasma membrane with a fraction in intracellular puncta. Upon copper treatment, LmATP7 expression increases few folds. LmATP7 is capable of complementing copper transport in Cu-ATPase-{Delta} yeast strain. Promastigotes overexpressing LmATP7 exhibits higher survival upon copper stress indicating efficacious copper export compared to wild type and heterozygous LmATP7 knock-out parasites. We explored macrophage-Leishmanial interaction with respect to copper stress subjected by the host upon parasite and the parasites reciprocating response thereon to evade the stress. The Copper-P-type-ATPases ATP7A/7B serve as major copper exporters in mammals that maintain cellular copper levels. We found that Leishmania infection triggers ATP7A upregulation in macrophages. Additionally, as part of host response, ATP7A traffics from trans-Golgi network and transports copper to the endosomal and endolysosomal compartments harbouring the Leishmania amastigotes. Finally, we show LmATP7 overexpression in this parasite increased amastigote survivability within infected macrophages whereas knocking it down reduces that drastically, establishing its role in combating host-induced copper stress.
Updated on January 25, 2022
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