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Leishmania tarentolae molecular signatures in a 300 hundred-years-old human Brazilian mummy

Abstract : Background: L. tarentolae, the lizard-infecting species of Old World geckos, has been classified as non-pathogenic to man. While it has been demonstrated that L. tarentolae is capable of infecting human phagocytic cells and to differentiate into amastigote-like forms, there is no clear evidence for its efficient replication within macrophages. Here we provide first evidence for L. tarentolae ancient DNA sequences from bone marrow and intestines of a 300yo adult male. Methods: We identified molecular signatures of Leishmania tarentolae, the lizard-infecting species of Old World geckos, in hard and soft tissue biopsies from a Brazilian mummy (A74) uncovered in Itacambira (Brazil) and dating to the Colonial Period (end of 18th/beginning of the 19th century). Results: Our results imply that efficient replication of the parasite occurred within human macrophage and to lead to a systemic spread and visceralization in this individual. The ancient sequences show a 100% similarity with those of isolated L. tarentolae parasites grown on artificial nutrient media and a 99% similarity with two modern sequences isolated from reptiles. Conclusions: De facto, our findings reopen the debate about the potential survival of ancient L. tarentolae strain within human macrophage and its ability to spread systemically. They also raise ecological issues since it is unknown whether this parasite circulates in the reptilian reservoir in modern day Brazil or not. Investigations on fossil fauna and arthropods are needed to shed light on the interactions between saurian Leishmania and lizards in Brazil's remote and recent past.
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Shênia Pc Novo, Daniela Leles, Raffaella Bianucci, Adauto Araujo. Leishmania tarentolae molecular signatures in a 300 hundred-years-old human Brazilian mummy. Parasites and Vectors, BioMed Central, 2015, 8 (72), ⟨10.1186/s13071-015-0666-z⟩. ⟨hal-01222312⟩

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