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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2007 Jul;31(4):359-77. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

A postgenomic view of the heat shock proteins in kinetoplastids.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


The kinetoplastids Leishmania major, Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma cruzi are causative agents of a diverse spectrum of human diseases: leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Chagas' disease, respectively. These protozoa possess digenetic life cycles that involve development in mammalian and insect hosts. It is generally accepted that temperature is a triggering factor of the developmental programme allowing the adaptation of the parasite to the mammalian conditions. The heat shock response is a general homeostatic mechanism that protects cells from the deleterious effects of environmental stresses, such as heat. This response is universal and includes the synthesis of the heat-shock proteins (HSPs). In this review, we summarize the salient features of the different HSP families and describe their main cellular functions. In parallel, we analyse the composition of these families in kinetoplastids according to literature data and our understanding of genome sequence data. The genome sequences of these parasites have been recently completed. The HSP families described here are: HSP110, HSP104, group I chaperonins, HSP90, HSP70, HSP40 and small HSPs. All these families are widely represented in these parasites. In particular, kinetoplastids possess an unprecedented number of members of the HSP70, HSP60 and HSP40 families, suggesting key roles for these HSPs in their biology.

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