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Annu Rev Biochem. 2002;71:275-305. Epub 2001 Nov 9.

Biological roles of proteases in parasitic protozoa.

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Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Proteases from a variety of protozoan parasites have been characterized at the molecular and cellular levels, and the many roles that proteases play in these organisms are coming into focus. Central roles have been proposed for proteases in diverse processes such as host cell invasion and egress, encystation, excystation, catabolism of host proteins, differentiation, cell cycle progression, cytoadherence, and both stimulation and evasion of host immune responses. Detailed structural and functional characterization of parasite proteases has led to novel insights into the workings of these fascinating catalytic machines. The possibility of developing selective inhibitors of key proteases of pathogenic parasites into novel chemotherapeutic strategies is being vigorously explored.

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