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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Oct 8;1455(2-3):341-52.

Glycoconjugates in Leishmania infectivity.

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Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, Laval, Canada.


Leishmaniasis is a major health problem to humans and is caused by one of the world's major pathogens, the Leishmania parasite. These protozoa have the remarkable ability to avoid destruction in hostile environments they encounter throughout their life cycle. That Leishmania parasites have adapted to not only survive, but to proliferate largely is due to the protection conferred by unique glycoconjugates that are either on the parasites' cell surface or secreted. Most of these specialized molecules are members of a family of phosphoglycans while others are a family of glycosylinositol phospholipids. Together they have been implicated in a surprisingly large number of functions for the parasites throughout their life cycle and, therefore, are key players in their pathogenesis. This review summarizes the biological roles of these glycoconjugates and how they are believed to contribute to Leishmania survival in destructive surroundings.

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