Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 22033378
Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 2012 Feb;181(2):85-93
L-Arginine is one of the precursor amino acids of polyamine biosynthesis in most living organisms including Leishmania parasites. L-Arginine is enzymatically hydrolyzed by arginase producing L-ornithine and urea. In Leishmania spp. and other trypanosomatids a single gene encoding arginase has been described. The product of this gene is compartmentalized in glycosomes and is the main source of L-ornithine for polyamine synthesis in these parasites. L-Ornithine is substrate of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) – one of the key enzymes of polyamine biosynthesis and a validated target for therapeutic intervention – producing putrescine, which in turn is converted to spermidine by condensing with an aminopropyl group from decarboxylated S-adenosylmethionine. Unlike trypanosomatids, mammalian hosts have two arginases (arginase I and II), which have close structural and kinetic resemblances, but localize in different subcellular organelles, respond to different stimuli and have different immunological reactivity. Arginase I is a cytosolic enzyme, mostly expressed in the liver as a pivotal component of the urea cycle, providing in addition L-ornithine for polyamine synthesis. In contrast, arginase II localizes inside mitochondria and is metabolically involved in L-proline and L-glutamine biosynthesis. More striking is the role played by L-arginine as substrate for nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) in macrophages, the main route of clearance of many infectious agents including Leishmania and Trypanosoma cruzi. In infected macrophages L-arginine is catalysed by NOS2 or arginase, contributing to host defense or parasite killing, respectively. A balance between NOS2 and arginase activities is a crucial factor in the progression of the Leishmania infection inside macrophages. In response to T-helper type 2 (Th2) cytokines, resident macrophages induce arginase I inhibiting NO production from L-arginine, thereby promoting parasite proliferation. Conversely, the response to T-helper type 1 (Th1) cytokines is linked to NOS2 induction and parasite death. Moreover, induction of any of these enzymes is accompanied by suppression of the other. Specifically, arginase reduces NO synthesis by substrate depletion, and N(ω)-hydroxy-L-arginine, one of the intermediates of NOS2 catalysis, competitively inhibits arginase activity. In spite of abundant data concerning arginases in mammals as well their involvement in parasite killing, there are very few papers regarding the actual role of arginase in the parasite itself. This review is an update on the recent progress in research on leishmanial arginase including the role played by this enzyme in the establishment of infection in macrophages and the immune response of the host. A comparative study of arginases from other kinetoplatids is also discussed.