Leishmania donovani-specific Ub-related modifier-1: an early endosome-associated ubiquitin-like conjugation inLeishmania donovani

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Protein modification by ubiquitin (Ub) and Ub-like molecules (Ubls) is a diverse biological process that regulates the activity of the target proteins. Systematic studies of Ubls in trypanosomatids likeLeishmania, the causative organism of potentially fatal visceral leishmaniasis, would yield a better understanding of the disease pathogenesis and identify novel therapeutic targets. The present study is the first to characterizeLeishmania donovani-specific Ub-related modifier-1 (LdUrm1) and the associated conjugation pathway. Based on homology modeling, LdUrm1 was found to possess a β-grasp fold and a C-terminal di-glycine motif unique to Ub/Ubls, essential for its conjugation to the target proteins. We identified LdUba4 as the E1 enzyme for LdUrm1 and demonstrated its energy-dependent enzymatic activity. LdUrm1 was immunolocalized anteriorly near the flagellar reservoir, while LdUba4 was cytoplasmic, both in promastigotes and axenic amastigotes. Expression of nonconjugatable LdUrm1 inL. donovaniresulted in depleted parasite growth suggesting its role in the pathogenesis. By mass spectrometry, we identified Rab5, a known mediator of early endosome regulated hemoglobin endocytosis inLeishmania, as a target of LdUrm1. Our data suggest that LdUrm1 conjugation pathway may have a role in early endosome-mediated heme uptake inLeishmaniathat may be explored as a drug target.

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