Heat shock protein (HSP) expression was examined in murine bone marrow-derived macrophages infected with stationary-phase promastigotes of Leishmania donovani. Immunoblotting performed with a rabbit polyclonal antiserum raised against HSP60 from Heliothis virescens (moth) revealed the de novo appearance of 65- and 67-kDa proteins in leishmania-infected macrophages. A third protein of 60 kDa, which represented murine HSP60, was also detected, and its expression did not change in response to infection. In contrast, expression of the novel 65- and 67-kDa proteins in infected cells was coordinately regulated and, at 24 h of infection, reached maximal levels of 52 to 100% increases above initial levels determined at 3 h. Proteins which had identical electrophoretic mobilities and were similarly regulated in response to heat were also detected in promastigotes. The appearance of these proteins in macrophages was specific to leishmania infection in that neither protein was detected in noninfected cells either in the basal state or following several treatments, including (i) infection with Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, (ii) phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus, (iii) NaAsO2 treatment, and (iv) heat shock. Expression of the 65- and 67-kDa heat-regulated Leishmania proteins was also observed to be selective, in that as their concentration was increasing, the abundance of the Leishmania surface protease gp63 in infected cells was noted to decrease. Murine HSP60 but not the Leishmania heat-regulated proteins was also recognized by a distinct rabbit antiserum raised against human HSP60, suggesting the presence of specific determinants within these Leishmania proteins. A monoclonal antibody that recognizes both mammalian HSP70 and HSP70 from plasmodia detected single isoforms of both Leishmania and murine HSP70 in infected cells, and the level of neither protein changed during infection. Moreover, although a murine HSP of 73 kDa was induced in response to both heat shock and NaAsO2 treatment, it was not induced to detectable levels by infection. The rapid and relatively high level of expression of inducible HSP60-related proteins of L. donovani and Leishmania HSP70 in infected macrophages suggests that these proteins are involved in pathogenesis and may be important targets of the immune response
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