Effect of pH and temperature on protein kinase release by Leishmania donovani

Lita L. Vieira, Nina Sacerdoti-Sierra, Charles L. Jaffe

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25 Scopus citations


During their life cycle Leishmania are exposed to environments that differ markedly in pH and temperature. The effect of these factors on protein kinase release into the surrounding environment by Leishmania donovani promastigotes was examined. Promastigotes release protein kinase activity both constitutively and following induction by incubation with an exogenous substrate, phosvitin. The substrate specificity of the constitutive and induced activities was similar, unlike that previously described for Leishmania major promastigotes. The Leishmania donovani enzymes phosphorylate phosvitin, but not casein, mixed histones or protamine sulphate, and both activities are shed over a wide pH range from 6 to 9. Transfer of promastigotes from pH 7.4/30°C to pH 5.0-5.5/37°C, conditions that mimic those encountered by parasites following transmission from sandflies to a mammalian host and uptake by macrophages, inhibited release of the constitutive activity. Identical conditions had only a minor effect on induced protein kinase release. Both types of protein kinase activities released at pH 7.4 were still active when assayed at pH 5.0. Characterisation of the constitutive and induced promastigote protein kinases showed that casein kinase 1- and casein kinase 2-like activities are released by Leishmania donovani. Constitutive enzyme release decreased over time, however, the addition of phosvitin to these 'casein kinase-depleted' promastigotes induced elevated casein kinase 1 and casein kinase 2 shedding. These results suggest that shed protein kinase might play a role in parasite survival and adaptation to host environments.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1085-1093
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by The Israel Science Foundation founded by The Academy of Sciences and Humanities. L.L.V. received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Lady Davis Foundation.


  • Casein kinase
  • Ecto-protein kinase
  • Leishmania donovani
  • Protein phosphorylation


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