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Jun 2013

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Protein Sample Preparation for Proteomic Analysis in Leishmania donovani    

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Leishmania is a genus of trypanosomatid protozoa and is the parasite responsible for the disease leishmaniasis. These protozoa, regulate their gene expression in an atypical way, compared to other higher eukaryotes. The regulation of gene expression is characterized by a predominance of post-transcriptional over pre-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms (Clayton, 2002). Thus proteomic analysis has proven an essential tool for understanding pathways implicated in Leishmania infectivity, host-parasite interactions, drug resistance and others. When employing a comparative proteomics analysis between different parasitic cell lines, it is essential that these lines are cultivated in exactly the same way, in the same cell density and growth phase. More importantly when cell-cycle defects are suspected, it is essential to synchronize cell-lines in the same cell-cycle phase so as to eliminate possible artifacts. This protocol describes the preparation of whole-protein samples for proteomic analysis in Leishmania donovani (L. donovani).

Keywords: Leishmania, Proteomics, Sample preparation

Materials and Reagents

  1. Leishmania donovani (L. donovani) parasites
  2. Glucose (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: G8270 )
  3. Hydroxyurea (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: H8627 )
  4. RPMI-1640 (Life Technologies, catalog number: 21875-034 )
  5. Fetal Bovine Serum heat inactivated (HIFBS) (Life Technologies, catalog number: 10270-106 )
  6. Penicillin/Streptomycin (Life Technologies, catalog number: 15140-122 )
  7. HEPES buffer (Life Technologies, catalog number: 15630-056 )
  8. Dry ice
  9. Ethanol
  10. E-64 (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: E3132 )
  11. CHAPS (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: 26680 )
  12. ASB-14 (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: A1346 )
  13. DTT (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: 43815 )
  14. Bio-Lyte® 3/10 Ampholyte (Bio-Rad Laboratories, catalog number: 163-2094 )
  15. Urea (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: U5378 )
  16. Thiourea (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: T7875 )
  17. Bromophenol blue (Bio-Rad Laboratories, catalog number: 161-0404 )
  18. Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS) (see Recipes)
  19. Lysis Buffer (see Recipes)
  20. Rehydration Buffer (see Recipes)
  21. Fully supplemented medium (see Recipes)


  1. Pipette
  2. Centrifuge
  3. Spiramix


  1. Leishmania donovani parasites in the logarithmic phase (~5 x 106 parasites/ml) were cultured in fully supplemented culture medium at 25 °C and synchronized with the addition of 2.5 mM hydroxyurea for 12 h.
  2. After this period of time the parasites are gently washed three times with 10 ml of PBS and released in 10 ml of fully supplemented RPMI medium.
  3. 5 x 108-109 parasites are harvested by centrifugation (500 x g, 15 min, RT).
  4. The parasitic pellet is washed twice with 10 ml of PBS supplemented with 0.1% (w/v) glucose.
  5. The parasitic pellet is resuspended in 50 μl Lysis buffer using a pipette.
  6. The lysed parasites are subjected to five freeze-thaw cycles in solid CO2/ethanol.
  7. The sample is centrifuged at 20,000 x g for 30 min at 4 °C.
  8. To the supernatant 400 μl of Rehydration buffer [containing 0.2% (v/v) Bio-Lyte®] are added.
  9. The sample is incubated for 30 min at RT under gentle rotation.
  10. After the end of the incubation, the sample is centrifuged at 17,000 x g for 40 min at RT.
  11. The supernatant can now be used for proteomic analysis or can be stored at -80 °C for future use.


  1. Extra caution is required at all steps of the procedure as not the protein sample to be contaminated by environmental proteins (e.g. keratin). Preferably avoid using bare hands during the procedure.
  2. After the addition of Rehydration buffer the sample should not be exposed to temperatures below 10 °C, due to urea-mediated sedimentation.
  3. Bio-Lyte® should be added just before the use of the Rehydration Buffer.


  1. PBS
    8 g of NaCl
    0.2 g of KCl
    1.44 g of Na2HPO4
    0.24 g of KH2PO4
    In 800 ml distilled H2O
    Adjust pH to 7.4
    Add H2O to 1 L
    Sterilized by autoclaving
  2. Lysis Buffer
    400 μl Tris-HCl (pH 9.5)
    20 μl 0.5 M EDTA (pH 8.0)
    100 μl 1 mM E-64
    Add distilled H2O up to 10 ml
    Aliquot and stored at -20 °C
  3. Rehydration Buffer
    To a volume of 3 ml distilled H2O dissolve
    4.8 g urea
    1.52 g thiourea
    0.4 g CHAPS
    0.1 g DTT
    0.24 g ASB-14
    5 μl 0.1% (w/v) bromophenol blue
    Add distilled H2O up to 10 ml
    Aliquot and stored at -20 °C
  4. Fully supplemented medium
    10% (v/v) HIFBS
    10 mM HEPES
    100 U/ml Penicillin/Streptomycin


This protocol was adapted from Clayton (2002) and Smirlis et al. (2006). Partial funding from the General Secretariat of Research and Technology action “Proposals for the development of Research Institutes, Krepis” supported this work.


  1. Alexandratos, A., Clos, J., Samiotaki, M., Efstathiou, A., Panayotou, G., Soteriadou, K. and Smirlis, D. (2013). The loss of virulence of histone H1 overexpressing Leishmania donovani parasites is directly associated with a reduction of HSP83 rate of translation. Mol Microbiol 88(5): 1015-1031.
  2. Clayton, C. E. (2002). Life without transcriptional control? From fly to man and back again. EMBO J 21(8): 1881-1888.
  3. Smirlis, D., Bisti, S. N., Xingi, E., Konidou, G., Thiakaki, M. and Soteriadou, K. P. (2006). Leishmania histone H1 overexpression delays parasite cell-cycle progression, parasite differentiation and reduces Leishmania infectivity in vivo. Mol Microbiol 60(6): 1457-1473.
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Copyright: © 2014 The Authors; exclusive licensee Bio-protocol LLC.
How to cite: Alexandratos, A. and Smirlis, D. (2014). Protein Sample Preparation for Proteomic Analysis in Leishmania donovani. Bio-protocol 4(5): e1058. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.1058.

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