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Enzyme Res. 2011;2011:415976. doi: 10.4061/2011/415976. Epub 2011 May 25.

Biosynthesis of galactofuranose in kinetoplastids: novel therapeutic targets for treating leishmaniasis and chagas' disease.

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Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Cell surface proteins of parasites play a role in pathogenesis by modulating mammalian cell recognition and cell adhesion during infection. β-Galactofuranose (Galf) is an important component of glycoproteins and glycolipids found on the cell surface of Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma cruzi. β-Galf-containing glycans have been shown to be important in parasite-cell interaction and protection against oxidative stress. Here, we discuss the role of β-Galf in pathogenesis and recent studies on the Galf-biosynthetic enzymes: UDP-galactose 4' epimerase (GalE), UDP-galactopyranose mutase (UGM), and UDP-galactofuranosyl transferase (GalfT). The central role in Galf formation, its unique chemical mechanism, and the absence of a homologous enzyme in humans identify UGM as the most attractive drug target in the β-Galf-biosynthetic pathway in protozoan parasites.

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