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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2011 Oct;179(2):51-8. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2011.06.006. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

Specializations in a successful parasite: what makes the bloodstream-form African trypanosome so deadly?

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


Most trypanosomatid parasites have both arthropod and mammalian or plant hosts, and the ability to survive and complete a developmental program in each of these very different environments is essential for life cycle progression and hence being a successful pathogen. For African trypanosomes, where the mammalian stage is exclusively extracellular, this presents specific challenges and requires evasion of both the acquired and innate immune systems, together with adaptation to a specific nutritional environment and resistance to mechanical and biochemical stresses. Here we consider the basis for these adaptations, the specific features of the mammalian infective trypanosome that are required to meet these challenges, and how these processes both inform on basic parasite biology and present potential therapeutic targets.

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