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Int J Parasitol. 2004 Jul;34(8):887-98.

The trypanosome lytic factor of human serum and the molecular basis of sleeping sickness.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, IBMM, University of Brussels, 12, rue des Professeurs Jeener et Brachet, B6041 Gosselies, Belgium.


Trypanosoma brucei brucei infects a wide range of mammals but is unable to infect humans because this subspecies is lysed by normal human serum (NHS). The trypanosome lytic factor is associated with High Density Lipoproteins (HDLs). Several HDL-associated components have been proposed as candidate lytic factors, and contradictory hypotheses concerning the mechanism of lysis have been suggested. Elucidation of the process by which Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense resists lysis and causes human sleeping sickness has indicated that the HDL-bound apolipoprotein L-I (apoL-I) could be the long-sought after lytic component of NHS. This research also allowed the identification of a specific diagnostic DNA probe for T. b. rhodesiense, and may lead to the development of novel anti-trypanosome strategies for use in the field.

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