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Trends Microbiol. 2008 Jun;16(6):261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.03.005. Epub 2008 May 28.

Crusade for iron: iron uptake in unicellular eukaryotes and its significance for virulence.

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Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


The effective acquisition of iron is a pre-requisite for survival of all organisms, especially parasites that have a high iron requirement. In mammals, iron homeostasis is meticulously regulated; extracellular free iron is essentially unavailable and host iron availability has a crucial role in the host-pathogen relationship. Therefore, pathogens use specialized and effective mechanisms to acquire iron. In this review, we summarize the iron-uptake systems in eukaryotic unicellular organisms with particular focus on the pathogenic species: Candida albicans, Tritrichomonas foetus, Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania spp. We describe the diversity of their iron-uptake mechanisms and highlight the importance of the process for virulence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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