Leishmania alternates between two morphologically different stages, promastigotes and amastigotes. While the majority of reports focused on how the promastigote form can alter macrophage (M phi) signaling and function, fewer reports investigated signaling alterations mediated by amastigotes, and there is a lack of comparative studies. In this study, we performed a comparison between the ability of both forms of the parasite to alter M phi signaling and functions. Here, we show that both promastigotes and amastigotes were able to rapidly activate host protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), importantly the Src homology 2 domain-containing PTP (SHP-1). However, we found that PTP-1B is specifically activated by promastigote but not amastigote infection and that lmcpb(-/-) promastigotes were no longer able to activate PTP-1B. We also show a similarity in the way promastigotes and amastigotes inactivate the transcription factors (TFs) STAT-1 alpha and AP-1, but we show differences in the modulation of NF-kappa B, with promastigotes cleaving the p65 subunit, generating a smaller p35 subunit, and amastigotes fully degrading the p65 subunit with no p35 production. Importantly, we show that the cysteine proteinase LmCPb plays a key role in the alteration of NF-kappa B, STAT-1 alpha, and AP-1 by promastigote and amastigote infections, ultimately leading to the inability of these TFs to translocate to the nucleus in response to gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) stimulation and thus contributing to the ability of both parasite forms to effectively block IFN-gamma-mediated nitric oxide (NO) production in M phi s.
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