Immunity & infection
Nowadays, there is no available vaccine for human leishmaniasis. Animal experiments demonstrate that pre-exposure to sand fly saliva confers protection against leishmaniasis. Our preceding work in humans indicates that Phlebotomus papatasi saliva induces the production of IL-10 by CD8+ T lymphocytes. The neutralization of IL-10 enhanced the activation of a T-cell CD4+ population-producing IFN-γ. Herein, we used a biochemical and functional genomics approach to identify the sand fly salivary components that are responsible for the activation of the T helper type 1 immune response in humans, therefore constituting potential vaccine candidates against leishmaniasis. Fractionated P. papatasi salivary extracts were first tested on T lymphocytes of immune donors. We confirmed that the CD4+ lymphocytes proliferate and produce IFN-γ in response to stimulation with the proteins of molecular weight >30 kDa. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from immune donors were transfected with plasmids coding for the most abundant proteins from the P. papatasi salivary gland cDNA library. Our result showed that the "yellow related proteins," PPTSP42 and PPTSP44, and "apyrase," PPTSP36, are the proteins responsible for the aforementioned cellular immune response and IFN-γ production. Strikingly, PPTSP44 triggered the highest level of lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ production. Multiplex cytokine analysis confirmed the T helper type 1-polarized response induced by these proteins. Importantly, recombinant PPTSP44 validated the results observed with the DNA plasmid, further supporting that PPTSP44 constitutes a promising vaccine candidate against human leishmaniasis.