Wolbachia introduction into Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae) cell lines and its effects on immune-related gene expression and interaction with Leishmania infantum

Daniela Da Silva Gonçalves, Iñaki Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Andrea Martins-Da-Silva, Erich Loza Telleria, Marcele Neves Rocha, Yara M. Traub-Csekö, Scott L. O'Neill, Maurício Roberto Viana Sant'Anna, Luciano Andrade Moreira

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The leishmaniases are important neglected diseases caused by Leishmania spp. which are transmitted by sand flies, Lutzomyia longipalpis being the main vector of visceral leishmaniasis in the Americas. The methodologies for leishmaniasis control are not efficient, causing 1.5 million reported cases annually worldwide, therefore showing the need for development of novel strategies and interventions to control transmission of the disease. The bacterium Wolbachia pipientis is being used to control viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue and Zika, and its introduction in disease vectors has been effective against parasites such as Plasmodium. Here we show the first successful establishment of Wolbachia into two different embryonic cell lines from L. longipalpis, LL-5 and Lulo, and analysed its effects on the sand fly innate immune system, followed by in vitro Leishmania infantum interaction. Results: Our results show that LL-5 cells respond to wMel and wMelPop-CLA strains within the first 72 h post-infection, through the expression of antimicrobial peptides and inducible nitric oxide synthase resulting in a decrease of Wolbachia detection in the early stages of infection. In subsequent passages, the wMel strain was not able to infect any of the sand fly cell lines while the wMelPop-CLA strain was able to stably infect Lulo cells and LL-5 at lower levels. In Wolbachia stably infected cells, the expression of immune-related genes involved with downregulation of the IMD, Toll and Jak-Stat innate immune pathways was significantly decreased, in comparison with the uninfected control, suggesting immune activation upon Wolbachia transinfection. Furthermore, Wolbachia transinfection did not promote a negative effect on parasite load in those cells. Conclusions: Initial strong immune responses of LL5 cells might explain the inefficiency of stable infections in these cells while we found that Lulo cells are more permissive to infection with Wolbachia causing an effect on the cell immune system, but not against in vitro L. infantum interaction. This establishes Lulo cells as a good system for the adaptation of Wolbachia in L. longipalpis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number33
    Number of pages13
    JournalParasites & Vectors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


    • Leishmania infantum
    • LL-5 cell
    • Lulo cell
    • Lutzomyia longipalpis
    • Wolbachia

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