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Curr Opin Immunol. 2004 Aug;16(4):524-30.

The strategies of the Theileria parasite: a new twist in host-pathogen interactions.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Pathology, Institute of Animal Pathology, University of Bern, Länggassstrasse 122, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.


Theileria parasites infect and transform cells of the ruminant immune system. Continuous proliferation and survival of Theileria-transformed cells involves the well-orchestrated activation of several host-cell signalling pathways. Constitutive NF-kappa B (nuclear factor kappa B) activation is accomplished by recruiting the IKK (I kappa B kinase) complex, a central regulator of NF-kappa B pathways, to the surface of the transforming schizont, where it becomes permanently activated. Constitutive activation of the PI-3K-PKB [phosphoinositide 3-kinase-(Akt) protein kinase B] pathway is likely to be indirect and is essential for continuous proliferation. Theileria-transformed T cells express a range of anti-apoptotic proteins that can be expected to provide protection against apoptosis induced by death receptors, as well as cellular control mechanisms that are mobilised to eliminate cells that entered a cycle of uncontrolled proliferation.

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