The mRNA-bound proteome of Leishmania mexicana: novel genetic insight into an ancient parasite

Luis M De Pablos, Tiago R Ferreira, Adam Dowle, Sarah Forrester, Ewan Parry, Katherine Newling, Pegine B Walrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leishmania parasite infections, termed the leishmaniases, cause significant global infectious disease burden. The lifecycle of the parasite embodies three main stages that require precise coordination of gene regulation to survive environmental shifts between sandfly and mammalian hosts. Constitutive transcription in kinetoplastid parasites means that gene regulation is overwhelmingly reliant on post-transcriptional mechanisms, yet strikingly few Leishmania trans-regulators are known. Utilizing optimised crosslinking and deep, quantified mass spectrometry, we present a comprehensive analysis of 1,400 mRNA binding proteins (mRBPs) and whole cell proteomes from the three main Leishmania lifecycle stages. Supporting the validity, while the crosslinked RBPome is magnitudes more enriched the protein identities of the crosslinked and non-crosslinked RBPomes were nearly identical. Moreover, multiple candidate RBPs were endogenously tagged and found to associate with discrete mRNA target pools in a stage-specific manner. Results indicate that in L.mexicana parasites, mRNA levels are not a strong predictor of the whole cell expression or RNA binding potential of encoded proteins. Evidence includes a low correlation between transcript and corresponding protein expression and stage-specific variation in protein expression versus RNA binding potential. Unsurprisingly, RNA binding protein enrichment correlates strongly with relative replication efficiency of the specific lifecycle stage. Our study is the first to quantitatively define and compare the mRBPome of multiple stages in kinetoplastid parasites. It provides novel, in-depth insight into the trans-regulatory mRNA:Protein (mRNP) complexes that drive Leishmania parasite lifecycle progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1284
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number7
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 de Pablos et al.

Cite this