The surface glycoconjugates of trypanosomatid parasites

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    Insect-transmitted protozoan parasites of the order Kinetoplastida, suborder Trypanosomatina, include Trypanosoma brucei (aetiological agent of African sleeping sickness), Trypanosoma cruzi (aetiological agent of Chagas' disease in South and Central America) and Leishmania spp. (aetiological agents of a variety of diseases throughout the tropics and sub-tropics). The structures of the most abundant cell-surface molecules of these organisms is reviewed and correlated with the different modes of parasitism of the three groups of parasites. The major surface molecules are all glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoproteins, such as the variant surface glycoproteins of T. brucei and the surface mucins of T. cruzi, or complex glycophospholipids, such as the lipophosphoglycans and glycoinositolphospholipids of the leishmanias. Significantly, all of the aforementioned structures share a motif of Man alpha l-4GlcN alpha l-6-myo-inositol-1-HPO4-lipid and can therefore be considered to be members of a GPI superfamily.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1295-1302
    Number of pages8
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences
    Issue number1359
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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