CRG: The Leishmania parasite adapts rapidly through genome amplification

CRG: The Leishmania parasite adapts rapidly through genome amplification

News from the CRG

The adaptation of the Leishmania parasite to different environments has been shown to be the result of frequent and reversible chromosomal amplifications. Such variations, named aneuploidies, are similar to those occurring in many cancer types. Because this parasite is rapidly adapting it has recently been recognized as an emerging public health threat for Europe.

The mechanism of gene amplification or aneuploidy explains adaptation in many different organisms. “But our work shows that evolution has scaled up this mechanism in Leishmania, to the point of making it an essential part of the parasite life cycle,” explains Cedric Notredame, senior principal investigator at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG). DNA sequencing data combined with novel in-silico or bioinformatics techniques, like the ones developed in this study, may give new insights to the aneuploidies that occur in cancer.

Leishmaniosis is an important human and veterinary disease caused by Leishmania parasites that affect 12 million people in over 98 endemic countries. The disease is now emerging in Europe due to climate change and massive population displacement. There is no human vaccine and only few treatments are available, all of which show one or more important limitations with respect to administration, toxicity or cost. // RF-PRBB

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Reference article:
Pablo Prieto Barja, Haplotype selection as an adaptive mechanism in the protozoan pathogen Leishmania donovani. Nature Ecology & Evolution. (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0361-x