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Comparative genomics of Leishmania (Mundinia)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • A. Butenko
  • A.Y. Kostygov
  • J. Sádlová
  • Y. Kleschenko
  • T. Bečvář
  • L. Podešvová
  • D.H. Macedo
  • D. Žihala
  • J. Lukeš
  • P.A. Bates
  • P. Volf
  • F.R. Opperdoes
  • V. Yurchenko
Article number726
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/10/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Genomics
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Trypanosomatids of the genus Leishmania are parasites of mammals or reptiles transmitted by bloodsucking dipterans. Many species of these flagellates cause important human diseases with clinical symptoms ranging from skin sores to life-threatening damage of visceral organs. The genus Leishmania contains four subgenera: Leishmania, Sauroleishmania, Viannia, and Mundinia. The last subgenus has been established recently and remains understudied, although Mundinia contains human-infecting species. In addition, it is interesting from the evolutionary viewpoint, representing the earliest branch within the genus and possibly with a different type of vector. Here we analyzed the genomes of L. (M.) martiniquensis, L. (M.) enriettii and L. (M.) macropodum to better understand the biology and evolution of these parasites.

All three genomes analyzed were approximately of the same size (~ 30 Mb) and similar to that of L. (Sauroleishmania) tarentolae, but smaller than those of the members of subgenera Leishmania and Viannia, or the genus Endotrypanum (~ 32 Mb). This difference was explained by domination of gene losses over gains and contractions over expansions at the Mundinia node, although only a few of these genes could be identified. The analysis predicts significant changes in the Mundinia cell surface architecture, with the most important ones relating to losses of LPG-modifying side chain galactosyltransferases and arabinosyltransferases, as well as β-amastins. Among other important changes were gene family contractions for the oxygen-sensing adenylate cyclases and FYVE zinc finger-containing proteins.

We suggest that adaptation of Mundinia to different vectors and hosts has led to alternative host-parasite relationships and, thereby, made some proteins redundant. Thus, the evolution of genomes in the genus Leishmania and, in particular, in the subgenus Mundinia was mainly shaped by host (or vector) switches.