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Systematic functional analysis of Leishmania protein kinases identifies regulators of differentiation or survival

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JournalNature Communications
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Jan 2021
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2021
DatePublished (current) - 23 Feb 2021
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Early online date23/02/21
Original languageEnglish


Differentiation between distinct stages is fundamental for the life cycle of intracellular protozoan parasites and for transmission between hosts, requiring stringent spatial and temporal regulation. Here, we apply kinome-wide gene deletion and gene tagging in Leishmania mexicana promastigotes to define protein kinases with life cycle transition roles. Whilst 162 are dispensable, 44 protein kinase genes are refractory to deletion in promastigotes and are likely core genes required for parasite replication. Phenotyping of pooled gene deletion mutants using bar-seq and projection pursuit clustering reveal functional phenotypic groups of protein kinases involved in differentiation from metacyclic promastigote to amastigote, growth and survival in macrophages and mice, colonisation of the sand fly and motility. This unbiased interrogation of protein kinase function in Leishmania allows targeted investigation of organelle-associated signalling pathways required for successful intracellular parasitism.

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© The Author(s) 2021

    Research areas

  • Animals, CRISPR-Associated Protein 9/metabolism, CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics, Cell Differentiation, Cell Survival, Female, Flagella/enzymology, Gene Deletion, Leishmania mexicana/cytology, Leishmaniasis/parasitology, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Models, Biological, Mutation/genetics, Protein Kinases/genetics, Proteome/metabolism, Psychodidae/parasitology

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