Visceral leishmaniasis patients have been reported to have a urine concentration defect. Concentration of urine by the renal inner medulla is essentially dependent on a transcription factor, NFAT5/TonEBP, because it activates expression of osmoprotective genes betaine/glycine transporter 1 (BGT1) and sodium/myo-inositol transporter (SMIT), and water channel aquaporin-2, all of which are imperative for concentrating urine. Leishmania parasites evade macrophage immune defenses by activating protein tyrosine phosphatases, among which SHP-1 is critical. We previously demonstrated that SHP-1 inhibits tonicity-dependent activation of NFAT5/TonEBP in HEK293 cells through screening a genome-wide small interfering (si) RNA library against phosphatases (Zhou X, Gallazzini M, Burg MB, Ferraris JD. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107: 7072-7077, 2010). We sought to examine whether Leishmania can activate SHP-1 and inhibit NFAT5/TonEBP activity in the renal inner medulla in a murine model of visceral leishmaniasis by injection of female BALB/c mice with a single intravenous dose of 5 105 L. chagasi metacyclic promastigotes. We found that SHP-1 is expressed in the kidney inner medulla. L. chagasi activates SHP-1 with an increase in stimulatory phosphorylation of SHP-1-Y536 in the region. L. chagasi reduces expression of NFAT5/TonEBP mRNA and protein as well as expression of its targeted genes: BGT1, SMIT, and aquaporin-2. The culture supernatant from L. chagasi metacyclic promastigotes increases SHP-1 protein abundance and potently inhibits NFAT5 transcriptional activity in mIMCD3 cells. However, L. chagasi in our animal model has no significant effect on urinary concentration. We conclude that L. chagasi, most likely through its secreted virulence factors, activates SHP-1 and reduces NFAT5/TonEBP gene expression, which leads to reduced NFAT5/TonEBP transcriptional activity in the kidney inner medulla.
- Urinary concentration
- Virulence factors