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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Aug;16(4):424-31. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.07.015. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Cryptic organelle homology in apicomplexan parasites: insights from evolutionary cell biology.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


The economic and clinical significance of apicomplexan parasites drives interest in their many evolutionary novelties. Distinctive intracellular organelles play key roles in parasite motility, invasion, metabolism, and replication, and understanding their relationship with the organelles of better-studied eukaryotic systems suggests potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Recent work has demonstrated divergent aspects of canonical eukaryotic components in the Apicomplexa, including Golgi bodies and mitochondria. The apicoplast is a relict plastid of secondary endosymbiotic origin, harboring metabolic pathways distinct from those of host species. The inner membrane complex (IMC) is derived from the cortical alveoli defining the superphylum Alveolata, but in apicomplexans functions in parasite motility and replication. Micronemes and rhoptries are associated with establishment of the intracellular niche, and define the apical complex for which the phylum is named. Morphological, cell biological and molecular evidence strongly suggest that these organelles are derived from the endocytic pathway.

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