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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2003 Feb;126(2):143-54.

Phospholipids in parasitic protozoa.

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Dynamique Moléculaire des Interactions Membranaires, CNRS UMR 5539, cc107, Université Montpellier II, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France.


Parasitic protozoa are surrounded by membrane structures that have a different lipid and protein composition relative to membranes of the host. The parasite membranes are essential structurally and also for parasite specific processes, like host cell invasion, nutrient acquisition or protection against the host immune system. Furthermore, intracellular parasites can modulate membranes of their host, and trafficking of membrane components occurs between host membranes and those of the intracellular parasite. Phospholipids are major membrane components and, although many parasites scavenge these phospholipids from their host, most parasites also synthesise phospholipids de novo, or modify a large part of the scavenged phospholipids. It was recently shown that some parasites like Plasmodium have unique phospholipid metabolic pathways. This review will focus on new developments in research on phospholipid metabolism of parasitic protozoa in relation to parasite-specific membrane structures and function, as well as on several targets for interference with the parasite phospholipid metabolism with a view to developing new anti-parasitic drugs.

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