Transcriptional shift and metabolic adaptations during Leishmania quiescence using stationary phase and drug pressure as models
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Microorganisms can adopt a quiescent physiological condition which acts as a survival strategy under unfavorable conditions. Quiescent cells are characterized by slow or non-proliferation and a deep downregulation of processes related to biosynthesis. Although quiescence has been described mostly in bacteria, this survival skill is widespread, including in eukaryotic microorganisms. In Leishmania, a digenetic parasitic protozoan that causes a major infectious disease, quiescence has been demonstrated, but the molecular and metabolic features enabling its maintenance are unknown. Here, we quantified the transcriptome and metabolome of Leishmania promastigotes and amastigotes where quiescence was induced in vitro either, through drug pressure or by stationary phase. Quiescent cells have a global and coordinated reduction in overall transcription, with levels dropping to as low as 0.4% of those in proliferating cells. However, a subset of transcripts did not follow this trend and were relatively upregulated in quiescent populations, including those encoding membrane components, such as amastins and GP63, or processes like autophagy. The metabolome followed a similar trend of overall downregulation albeit to a lesser magnitude than the transcriptome. It is noteworthy that among the commonly upregulated metabolites were those involved in carbon sources as an alternative to glucose. This first integrated two omics layers afford novel insight into cell regulation and show commonly modulated features across stimuli and stages.