Salvatore J Turco

Bio / Education: 

B.S. Indiana University (PA)
Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh

Research Description: 

Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania are responsible for a spectrum of human diseases, termed leishmaniasis. Depending on the species involved, leishmaniasis appears clinically in three forms: cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral, the last being fatal if untreated. The parasites have a remarkable capacity to avoid destruction in the hostile environments encountered in their life cycle, alternating between intracellular macrophage parasitism and extracellular life in the gut of the sand fly vector. As in other microbial pathogens, the development of genetic tools for the study of these parasites promises to help unravel the molecular details of how these microorganisms persevere under such harsh circumstances. Advances in functional genetic analysis provide a new avenue for identifying genes implicated in the parasite’s infectious cycle, such as those necessary for the synthesis and expression of the key surface virulence factor, lipophosphoglycan (LPG). LPG has been implicated in binding and release of the parasite in the midgut of the sand fly, resistance to complement, binding and uptake by macrophages, modulating macrophage signal transduction, resistance to oxidative attack, and, ultimately, allowing the parasite to establish successful infections.

The overall objective of our research is to elucidate the genetic and biochemical details of the biosynthesis of the Leishmania lipophosphoglycan and related glycoconjugates, primarily through the exploitation of LPG-defective mutants using forward/reverse genetic protocols. This work is collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Beverley (Washington Univ. Sch. Med). The functions of the proteins encoded by LPG genes recovered by genomic and bioinformatic approaches is a primary focus of our laboratory. These functions and eventual characterization of the encoded proteins will be determined through the development and use of in vitro enzymatic assays. From our studies, we hope to contribute to the understanding of the role glycoconjugates play in the pathogenesis of leishmaniasis and to provide a biochemical rationale for the design of chemotherapeutic regimens that exploit complex carbohydrate differences between those of the mammalian host and of the parasite.

PubMed Publications: 

  • Volf, P.;Nogueira, P.M.;Myskova, J.;Turco, S.J.;Soares, R.P. "Structural comparison of lipophosphoglycan from Leishmania turanica and L. major, two species transmitted by Phlebotomus papatasi." Parasitology international 63, 5 (2014): 683-6. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Arango Duque, G.;Fukuda, M.;Turco, S.J.;Stäger, S.;Descoteaux, A. "Leishmania Promastigotes Induce Cytokine Secretion in Macrophages through the Degradation of Synaptotagmin XI." Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) (2014): [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Goswami, M.;Dobson, D.E.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Demonstration by heterologous expression that the Leishmania SCA1 gene encodes an arabinopyranosyltransferase." Glycobiology 16, 3 (2006): 230-6. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Barron, T.L.;Turco, S.J. "Quantitation of Leishmania lipophosphoglycan repeat units by capillary electrophoresis." Biochimica et biophysica acta 1760, 4 (2006): 710-4. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Soares, R.P.;Cardoso, T.L.;Barron, T.;Araújo, M.S.;Pimenta, P.F.;Turco, S.J. "Leishmania braziliensis: a novel mechanism in the lipophosphoglycan regulation during metacyclogenesis." International journal for parasitology 35, 3 (2005): 245-53. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Segawa, H.;Soares, R.P.;Kawakita, M.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Reconstitution of GDP-mannose transport activity with purified Leishmania LPG2 protein in liposomes." The Journal of biological chemistry 280, 3 (2005): 2028-35. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Soares, R.P.;Turco, S.J. "Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae): a review." Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias 75, 3 (2003): 301-30. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Pedersen, L.L.;Turco, S.J. "Galactofuranose metabolism: a potential target for antimicrobial chemotherapy." Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS 60, 2 (2003): 259-66. [PubMed Link] |
  • Turco, S.J.;Sacks, D.L. "Control of Leishmania-sand fly interactions by polymorphisms in lipophosphoglycan structure." Methods in enzymology 363, (2003): 377-81. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J.;Späth, G.F.;Beverley, S.M. "Is lipophosphoglycan a virulence factor? A surprising diversity between Leishmania species." Trends in parasitology 17, 5 (2001): 223-6. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Guha-Niyogi, A.;Sullivan, D.R.;Turco, S.J. "Glycoconjugate structures of parasitic protozoa." Glycobiology 11, 4 (2001): 45R-59R. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Hong, K.;Ma, D.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "The Leishmania GDP-mannose transporter is an autonomous, multi-specific, hexameric complex of LPG2 subunits." Biochemistry 39, 8 (2000): 2013-22. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mengeling, B.J.;Turco, S.J. "A high-yield, enzymatic synthesis of GDP-D- 3H arabinose and GDP-L- 3H fucose." Analytical biochemistry 267, 1 (1999): 227-33. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mahoney, A.B.;Turco, S.J. "Characterization of the glucosyltransferases that assemble the side chains of the Indian Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 372, 2 (1999): 367-74. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J. "Adversarial relationship between the leishmania lipophosphoglycan and protein kinase C of host macrophages." Parasite immunology 21, 12 (1999): 597-600. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mahoney, A.B.;Sacks, D.L.;Saraiva, E.;Modi, G.;Turco, S.J. "Intra-species and stage-specific polymorphisms in lipophosphoglycan structure control Leishmania donovani-sand fly interactions." Biochemistry 38, 31 (1999): 9813-23. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mengeling, B.J.;Turco, S.J. "Microbial glycoconjugates." Current opinion in structural biology 8, 5 (1998): 572-7. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Descoteaux, A.;Mengeling, B.J.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Leishmania donovani has distinct mannosylphosphoryltransferases for the initiation and elongation phases of lipophosphoglycan repeating unit biosynthesis." Molecular and biochemical parasitology 94, 1 (1998): 27-40. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mengeling, B.J.;Zilberstein, D.;Turco, S.J. "Biosynthesis of Leishmania lipophosphoglycan: solubilization and partial characterization of the initiating mannosylphosphoryltransferase." Glycobiology 7, 6 (1997): 847-53. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Mengeling, B.J.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Designing glycoconjugate biosynthesis for an insidious intent: phosphoglycan assembly in Leishmania parasites." Glycobiology 7, 7 (1997): 873-80. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Ma, D.;Russell, D.G.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Golgi GDP-mannose uptake requires Leishmania LPG2. A member of a eukaryotic family of putative nucleotide-sugar transporters." The Journal of biological chemistry 272, 6 (1997): 3799-805. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Ma, D.;Beverley, S.M.;Turco, S.J. "Leishmania donovani possess a NADPH-dependent alkylglycerol cleavage enzyme." Biochemical and biophysical research communications 227, 3 (1996): 885-9. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Huang, C.;Turco, S.J. "Defective galactofuranose addition in lipophosphoglycan biosynthesis in a mutant of Leishmania donovani." The Journal of biological chemistry 268, 32 (1993): 24060-6. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Descoteaux, A.;Turco, S.J. "The lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania and macrophage protein kinase C." Parasitology today (Personal ed.) 9, 12 (1993): 468-71. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Descoteaux, A.;Matlashewski, G.;Turco, S.J. "Inhibition of macrophage protein kinase C-mediated protein phosphorylation by Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 149, 9 (1992): 3008-15. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Greis, K.D.;Turco, S.J.;Thomas, J.R.;McConville, M.J.;Homans, S.W.;Ferguson, M.A. "Purification and characterization of an extracellular phosphoglycan from Leishmania donovani." The Journal of biological chemistry 267, 9 (1992): 5876-81. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Carver, M.A.;Turco, S.J. "Biosynthesis of lipophosphoglycan from Leishmania donovani: characterization of mannosylphosphate transfer in vitro." Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 295, 2 (1992): 309-17. [PubMed Link] |
  • Turco, S.J. "The lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania." Sub-cellular biochemistry 18, (1992): 73-97. [PubMed Link] |
  • Turco, S.J.;Descoteaux, A. "The lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania parasites." Annual review of microbiology 46, (1992): 65-94. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J.;Sacks, D.L. "Expression of a stage-specific lipophosphoglycan in Leishmania major amastigotes." Molecular and biochemical parasitology 45, 1 (1991): 91-9. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Carver, M.A.;Turco, S.J. "Cell-free biosynthesis of lipophosphoglycan from Leishmania donovani. Characterization of microsomal galactosyltransferase and mannosyltransferase activities." The Journal of biological chemistry 266, 17 (1991): 10974-81. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • McNeely, T.B.;Tolson, D.L.;Pearson, T.W.;Turco, S.J. "Characterization of Leishmania donovani variant clones using anti-lipophosphoglycan monoclonal antibodies." Glycobiology 1, 1 (1990): 63-9. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J. "The leishmanial lipophosphoglycan: a multifunctional molecule." Experimental parasitology 70, 2 (1990): 241-5. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • McNeely, T.B.;Turco, S.J. "Requirement of lipophosphoglycan for intracellular survival of Leishmania donovani within human monocytes." Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 144, 7 (1990): 2745-50. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J.;Orlandi PA, J.;Homans, S.W.;Ferguson, M.A.;Dwek, R.A.;Rademacher, T.W. "Structure of the phosphosaccharide-inositol core of the Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." The Journal of biological chemistry 264, 12 (1989): 6711-5. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • McNeely, T.B.;Rosen, G.;Londner, M.V.;Turco, S.J. "Inhibitory effects on protein kinase C activity by lipophosphoglycan fragments and glycosylphosphatidylinositol antigens of the protozoan parasite Leishmania." The Biochemical journal 259, 2 (1989): 601-4. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J. "The lipophosphoglycan of Leishmania." Parasitology today (Personal ed.) 4, 9 (1988): 255-7. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J. "Proposal for a function of the Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." Biochemical Society transactions 16, 3 (1988): 259-61. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • King, D.L.;Turco, S.J. "A ricin agglutinin-resistant clone of Leishmania donovani deficient in lipophosphoglycan." Molecular and biochemical parasitology 28, 3 (1988): 285-93. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
  • Turco, S.J.;Hull, S.R.;Orlandi PA, J.;Shepherd, S.D.;Homans, S.W.;Dwek, R.A.;Rademacher, T.W. "Structure of the major carbohydrate fragment of the Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." Biochemistry 26, 19 (1987): 6233-8. [PubMed Link] |
  • McNeely, T.B.;Turco, S.J. "Inhibition of protein kinase C activity by the Leishmania donovani lipophosphoglycan." Biochemical and biophysical research communications 148, 2 (1987): 653-7. [PubMed Link] | [ Full text ]
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