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Cell Microbiol. 2011 Mar;13(3):331-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2010.01561.x. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Cyclic nucleotide signalling in malaria parasites.

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1
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. david.baker@lshtm.ac.uk

Abstract

Cyclic nucleotides are so-called intracellular second messenger molecules used by all cells to transform environmental signals into an appropriate response. Interest in the cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP in malaria parasites followed early observations that both molecules might be involved in distinct differentiation events within the sexual phase of the life cycle that is required for transmission of parasites to the mosquito vector. Completed genome sequences combined with biochemical and genetic studies have confirmed the presence of the main enzymatic components of cyclic nucleotide signalling in the parasite. Dissection of their functions is underway and is giving initial insights into some of the cellular processes, which are regulated by these signalling pathways. Malaria parasites occupy terminally differentiated red blood cells for a significant proportion of their life cycle, but although there is some evidence of potential roles for the residual host cell signalling machinery in parasite development, details are few. A major gap in our knowledge is the nature of the cell surface receptors, which might trigger cyclic nucleotide signalling in the parasite.

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