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Trends Parasitol. 2003 Jul;19(7):320-8.

Thiol-based redox metabolism of protozoan parasites.

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Division of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, DD1 5EH, Dundee, UK.


The review considers redox enzymes of Plasmodium spp., Trypanosomatida, Trichomonas, Entamoeba and Giardia, with special emphasis on their potential use as targets for drug development. Thiol-based redox systems play pivotal roles in the success and survival of these parasitic protozoa. The synthesis of cysteine, the key molecule of any thiol metabolism, has been elucidated in trypanosomatids and anaerobes. In trypanosomatids, trypanothione replaces the more common glutathione system. The enzymes of trypanothione synthesis have recently been identified. The role of trypanothione in the detoxification of reactive oxygen species is reflected in the multiplicity of trypanothione-dependent peroxidases. In Plasmodium falciparum, the crystal structures of glutathione reductase and glutamate dehydrogenase are now available; another drug target, thioredoxin reductase, has been demonstrated to be essential for the malarial parasite.

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