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Revealing the mystery of metabolic adaptations using a genome scale model of Leishmania infantum.

Sci Rep; 7(1): 10262, 2017 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28860532
Human macrophage phagolysosome and sandfly midgut provide antagonistic ecological niches for Leishmania parasites to survive and proliferate. Parasites optimize their metabolism to utilize the available inadequate resources by adapting to those environments. Lately, a number of metabolomics studies have revived the interest to understand metabolic strategies utilized by the Leishmania parasite for optimal survival within its hosts. For the first time, we propose a reconstructed genome-scale metabolic model for Leishmania infantum JPCM5, the analyses of which not only captures observations reported by metabolomics studies in other Leishmania species but also divulges novel features of the L. infantum metabolome. Our results indicate that Leishmania metabolism is organized in such a way that the parasite can select appropriate alternatives to compensate for limited external substrates. A dynamic non-essential amino acid motif exists within the network that promotes a restricted redistribution of resources to yield required essential metabolites. Further, subcellular compartments regulate this metabolic re-routing by reinforcing the physiological coupling of specific reactions. This unique metabolic organization is robust against accidental errors and provides a wide array of choices for the parasite to achieve optimal survival.