Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Parasitol. 2002 Aug;32(9):1071-84.

Natural and induced dyskinetoplastic trypanosomatids: how to live without mitochondrial DNA.

Author information

Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, 4 Nickerson Street, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Salivarian trypanosomes are the causative agents of several diseases of major social and economic impact. The most infamous parasites of this group are the African subspecies of the Trypanosoma brucei group, which cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle. In terms of geographical distribution, however, Trypanosoma equiperdum and Trypanosoma evansi have been far more successful, causing disease in livestock in Africa, Asia, and South America. In these latter forms the mitochondrial DNA network, the kinetoplast, is altered or even completely lost. These natural dyskinetoplastic forms can be mimicked in bloodstream form T. brucei by inducing the loss of kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) with intercalating dyes. Dyskinetoplastic T. brucei are incapable of completing their usual developmental cycle in the insect vector, due to their inability to perform oxidative phosphorylation. Nevertheless, they are usually as virulent for their mammalian hosts as parasites with intact kDNA, thus questioning the therapeutic value of attempts to target mitochondrial gene expression with specific drugs. Recent experiments, however, have challenged this view. This review summarises the data available on dyskinetoplasty in trypanosomes and revisits the roles the mitochondrion and its genome play during the life cycle of T. brucei.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center