LmjF.22.0810 from Leishmania major Modulates the Th2-Type Immune Response and Is Involved in Leishmaniasis Outcome
A novel serine/threonine protein kinase, LmjF.22.0810, was recently described in Leishmania major. After generating an L. major cell line overexpressing LmjF.22.0810 (named LmJ3OE), the ability of this novel protein to modulate the Th2-type immune response was analyzed. Our results suggest that the protein kinase LmjF.22.0810 might be involved in leishmaniasis outcomes. Indeed, our study outlined the LmJ3OE parasites infectivity in vitro and in vivo. Transgenic parasites displayed lower phagocytosis rates in vitro, and their promastigote forms exhibited lower expression levels of virulence factors compared to their counterparts in control parasites. In addition, LmJ3OE parasites developed significantly smaller footpad swelling in susceptible BALB/c mice. Hematoxylin-eosin staining allowed the observation of a lower inflammatory infiltrate in the footpad from LmJ3OE-infected mice compared to animals inoculated with control parasites. Gene expression of Th2-associated cytokines and effectors revealed a dramatically lower induction in interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, and arginase 1 (ARG1) mRNA levels at the beginning of the swelling; no expression change was found in Th1-associated cytokines except for IL-12. Accordingly, such results were validated by immunohistochemistry studies, illustrating a weaker expression of ARG1 and a similar induction for inducible NO synthase (iNOS) in footpads from LmJ3OE-infected mice compared to control L. major infected animals. Furthermore, the parasite burden was lower in footpads from LmJ3OE-infected mice. Our analysis indicated that such significant smaller footpad swellings might be due to an impairment of the Th2 immune response that subsequently benefits Th1 prevalence. Altogether, these studies depict LmjF.22.0810 as a potential modulator of host immune responses to Leishmania. Finally, this promising target might be involved in the modulation of infection outcome.