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Targeting Leishmania major parasite with peptides derived from a combinatorial phage display library

Abstract : Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a global problem caused by intracellular protozoan pathogens of the genus Leishmania for which there are no suitable vaccine or chemotherapy options. Thus, de novo identification of small molecules binding to the Leishmania parasites by direct screening is a promising and appropriate alternative strategy for the development of new drugs. In this study, we used a random linear hexapeptide library fused to the gene III protein of M13 filamentous bacteriophage to select binding peptides to metacyclic promastigotes from a highly virulent strain of Leishmania major (Zymodeme MON-25; MHOM/TN/94/GLC94). After four rounds of stringent selection and amplification, polyclonal and monoclonal phage-peptides directed against L. major metacyclic promastigotes were assessed by ELISA, and the optimal phage-peptides were grown individually and characterized for binding to L. major by monoclonal phage ELISA. The DNA of 42 phage-peptides clones was amplified by PCR, sequenced, and their amino acid sequences deduced. Six different peptide sequences were obtained with frequencies of occurrence ranging from 2.3% to 85.7%. The biological effect of the peptides was assessed in vitro on human monocytes infected with L. major metacyclic promastigotes, and in vivo on susceptible parasite-infected BALB/c mice. The development of cutaneous lesions in the right hind footpads of infected mice after 13 weeks post-infection showed a protection rate of 81.94% with the injected peptide P2. Moreover, Western blots revealed that the P2 peptide interacted with the major surface protease gp63, a protein of 63kDa molecular weight. Moreover, bioinformatics were used to predict the interaction between peptides and the major surface molecule of the L. major. The molecular docking showed that the P2 peptide has the minimum interaction energy and maximum shape complimentarity with the L. major gp63 active site. Our study demonstrated that the P2 peptide occurs at high frequency during the screening procedure, best inhibits L. major growth kinetics in vitro, and reduces cutaneous lesions in BALB/c mice, thus showing great promise in the development of new therapeutic molecules.
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Rafik Ben Rhaiem, Mehdi Houimel. Targeting Leishmania major parasite with peptides derived from a combinatorial phage display library. Acta Tropica, Elsevier, 2016, 159, pp.11-19. ⟨10.1016/j.actatropica.2016.03.018⟩. ⟨pasteur-01968222⟩



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