Natural Antibodies Enable Genetic Exchange in Leishmania Parasites

Leishmania genetic exchange is mediated by IgM natural antibodies

This research uncovers a fascinating role of natural antibodies (IgM) in mediating genetic exchange in Leishmania parasites. These antibodies cause the formation of temporary parasite clumps, leading to fusion and hybrid creation. The study found that Leishmania-free animal IgM binds to parasite surfaces, affecting gene expression. Importantly, these clumps are crucial for parasite hybridization. In experiments, sand flies with IgM in their second blood meal had a 12-fold increase in hybrid formation. This unique interaction highlights how Leishmania parasites use host antibodies to enhance genetic diversity and fitness.

Serafim, T.D., Iniguez, E., Barletta, A.B.F. et al. Leishmania genetic exchange is mediated by IgM natural antibodies. Nature (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06655-8


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