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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2004 Aug;7(4):375-81.

Cysteine peptidases as virulence factors of Leishmania.

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Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.


Leishmania mexicana amastigotes are particularly rich in cysteine peptidases (CPs), which play important roles in facilitating the survival and growth of the parasites in mammals. The importance of the CPs as virulence factors and their potential as drug targets and vaccine candidates has been investigated extensively. Recent years, however, have heralded advances in our knowledge and understanding of leishmanial CPs on two fronts. Firstly, genome analysis has revealed the great diversity of CPs, and, secondly, the ways in which the most widely studied CPs, designated CPB, influence the interaction between parasite and mammalian host have been elucidated. These topics are the focus of this review.

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