The loss of kinetoplast DNA in Leishmania tarentolae, which occurs in the presence of low concentrations of acriflavin, was found to be a result of selective inhibition of replication of this DNA. Nuclear DNA synthesis was relatively unaffected and cell and kinetoplast division proceeded normally for several generations. An approximately equal distribution of parental kinetoplast DNA between daughter kinetoplasts resulted in a decrease in the average amount of DNA per kinetoplast. The final disappearance of the stainable kinetoplast DNA occurred at a cell division in which all the remaining visible kinetoplast DNA was retained by one of the daughter cells. The selective inhibition of kinetoplast DNA synthesis was caused by a selective localization of acriflavin in the kinetoplast. The apparent intracellular localization of dye and the extent of uptake at a low dye concentration could be manipulated, respectively, by varying the hemin (or protoporphyrin IX) concentration in the medium and by adding red blood cell extract (or hemoglobin). Hemin and protoporphyrin IX were found to form a complex with acriflavin. During growth in acriflavin, cells exhibited an increasing impairment of colony-forming ability and rate of respiration. No change in the electrophoretic pattern of total cell soluble proteins was apparent. The data fit the working hypothesis that the loss of kinetoplast DNA leads to a respiratory defect which then leads to a decrease in biosynthetic reactions and eventual cell death. A possible use of the selective localization of acriflavin in the kinetoplast to photooxidize selectively the kinetoplast DNA is suggested.

This content is only available as a PDF.