Background: Lipophosphoglycan (LPG) is a dominant surface molecule of Leishmaniapromastigotes. Its species-specific polymorphisms are found mainly in the sugars that branch off the conserved Gal(β1,4)Man(α1)-PO4 backbone of repeat units. Leishmania amazonensis is one of the most important species causing human cutaneous leishmaniasis in the New World. Here, we describe LPG intraspecific polymorphisms in two Le. amazonensis reference strains and their role during the development in three sand fly species.

Results: Strains isolated from Lutzomyia flaviscutellata (PH8) and from a human patient (Josefa) displayed structural polymorphism in the LPG repeat units, possessing side chains with 1 and 2 β-glucose or 1 to 3 β-galactose, respectively. Both strains successfully infected permissive vectors Lutzomyia longipalpis and Lutzomyia migonei and could colonize their stomodeal valve and differentiate into metacyclic forms. Despite bearing terminal galactose residues on LPG, Josefa could not sustain infection in the restrictive vector Phlebotomus papatasi.

Conclusions: LPG polymorphisms did not affect the ability of Le. amazonensis to develop late-stage infections in permissive vectors. However, the non-establishment of infection in Ph. papatasi by Josefa strain suggested other LPG-independent factors in this restrictive vector.

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Published in BMC Parasites & Vectors, v. 10, 608, p. 1-10.

© The Author(s). 2017

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RPS, PMN, RRA and ACG are supported by Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento (CNPq PAPES VI 407438/2012-2) and Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (PPM-00102-16). PV, JS, JM, KP and JH are supported by Charles University, project UNCE 204017/2012. ACT is supported by Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP 2016–01917-3).

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The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.