Karina Luiza Dias-Teixeira 1 , 2 , Teresa C. Calegari-Silva 1 , Jorge M. Medina 3 , Áislan C. Vivarini 1 , Átila Cavalcanti 1 , Nataly Teteo 1 , Alynne Karen M. Santana 4 , Fernando Real 5 , Ciro M. Gomes 6 , Renata Meirelles Santos Pereira 7 , Nicolas Fasel 8 , João S. Silva 4 , Bertal H. Aktas 2 , Ulisses G. Lopes , 1
6 December 2017
Leishmania parasites utilize adaptive evasion mechanisms in infected macrophages to overcome host defenses and proliferate. We report here that the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 signaling branch of the integrated endoplasmic reticulum stress response (IERSR) is activated by Leishmania and this pathway is important for Leishmania amazonensis infection. Knocking down PERK or ATF4 expression or inhibiting PERK kinase activity diminished L. amazonensis infection. Knocking down ATF4 decreased NRF2 expression and its nuclear translocation, reduced HO-1 expression and increased nitric oxide production. Meanwhile, the increased expression of ATF4 and HO-1 mRNAs were observed in lesions derived from patients infected with the prevalent related species L. (V. ) braziliensis. Our data demonstrates that Leishmania parasites activate the PERK/eIF2α/ATF-4 pathway in cultured macrophages and infected human tissue and that this pathway is important for parasite survival and progression of the infection.