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Reactive Oxygen Species-mediated Immunity against Leishmania mexicana and Serratia marcescens in the Phlebotomine Sand Fly Lutzomyia longipalpis

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Hector Diaz-Albiter
  • Mauricio R V Sant'anna
  • Fernando A Genta
  • Rod J Dillon
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)23995-24003
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Phlebotomine sand flies are the vectors of medically important Leishmania. The Leishmania protozoa reside in the sand fly gut, but the nature of the immune response to the presence of Leishmania is unknown. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a major component of insect innate immune pathways regulating gut-microbe homeostasis. Here we show that the concentration of ROS increased in sand fly midguts after they fed on the insect pathogen Serratia marcescens but not after feeding on the Leishmania that uses the sand fly as a vector. Moreover, the Leishmania is sensitive to ROS either by oral administration of ROS to the infected fly or by silencing a gene that expresses a sand fly ROS-scavenging enzyme. Finally, the treatment of sand flies with an exogenous ROS scavenger (uric acid) altered the gut microbial homeostasis, led to an increased commensal gut microbiota, and reduced insect survival after oral infection with S. marcescens. Our study demonstrates a differential response of the sand fly ROS system to gut microbiota, an insect pathogen, and the Leishmania that utilize the sand fly as a vehicle for transmission between mammalian hosts.