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Cells 2012, 1(3), 346-371; doi:10.3390/cells1030346
Review

Autophagy in Trypanosomatids

1,†
, 2,†,‡
 and 1,*
1 Research Unit for Tropical Diseases, de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue Hippocrate 74, postal box B1.74.01, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium 2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University Campus, University of Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, 28871, Spain These authors contributed equally to this work. Present Address: Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, King’s Buildings, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 June 2012 / Revised: 14 July 2012 / Accepted: 16 July 2012 / Published: 27 July 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy)
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Abstract

Autophagy is a ubiquitous eukaryotic process that also occurs in trypanosomatid parasites, protist organisms belonging to the supergroup Excavata, distinct from the supergroup Opistokontha that includes mammals and fungi. Half of the known yeast and mammalian AuTophaGy (ATG) proteins were detected in trypanosomatids, although with low sequence conservation. Trypanosomatids such as Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania spp. are responsible for serious tropical diseases in humans. The parasites are transmitted by insects and, consequently, have a complicated life cycle during which they undergo dramatic morphological and metabolic transformations to adapt to the different environments. Autophagy plays a major role during these transformations. Since inhibition of autophagy affects the transformation, survival and/or virulence of the parasites, the ATGs offer promise for development of drugs against tropical diseases. Furthermore, various trypanocidal drugs have been shown to trigger autophagy-like processes in the parasites. It is inferred that autophagy is used by the parasites in an—not always successful—attempt to cope with the stress caused by the toxic compounds.
Keywords: autophagy; Trypanosomatidae; Trypanosoma; Leishmania; parasites; life-cycle differentiation; glycosomes; pexophagy; drug discovery; drug action autophagy; Trypanosomatidae; Trypanosoma; Leishmania; parasites; life-cycle differentiation; glycosomes; pexophagy; drug discovery; drug action
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Brennand, A.; Rico, E.; Michels, P.A.M. Autophagy in Trypanosomatids. Cells 2012, 1, 346-371.

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