Leishmania parasites exchange drug-resistance genes through extracellular vesicles
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofCell reports ; vol. 40, no. 3.
Leishmania are eukaryotic parasites that have retained the ability to produce extracellular vesicles (EVs) through evolution. To date, it has been unclear if different DNA entities could be associated with Leishmania EVs and whether these could constitute a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Herein, we investigate the DNA content of EVs derived from drug-resistant parasites, as well as the EVs’ potential to act as shuttles for DNA transfer. Next-generation sequencing and PCR assays confirm the enrichment of amplicons carrying drug-resistance genes associated with EVs. Transfer assays of drug-resistant EVs highlight a significant impact on the phenotype of recipient parasites induced by the expression of the transferred DNA. Recipient parasites display an enhanced growth and better control of oxidative stress. We provide evidence that eukaryotic EVs function as efficient mediators in HGT, thereby facilitating the transmission of drug-resistance genes and increasing the fitness of cells when encountering stressful environments.