PLoS Pathog. 2007 Jun 29;3(6):e78 [Epub ahead of print]
Building the Perfect Parasite: Cell Division in Apicomplexa
Striepen B, Jordan CN, Reiff S, van Dooren GG.
Apicomplexans are pathogens responsible for malaria, toxoplasmosis, and crytposporidiosis in humans, and a wide range of livestock diseases. These unicellular eukaryotes are stealthy invaders, sheltering from the immune response in the cells of their hosts, while at the same time tapping into these cells as source of nutrients. The complexity and beauty of the structures formed during their intracellular development have made apicomplexans the darling of electron microscopists. Dramatic technological progress over the last decade has transformed apicomplexans into respectable genetic model organisms. Extensive genomic resources are now available for many apicomplexan species. At the same time, parasite transfection has enabled researchers to test the function of specific genes through reverse and forward genetic approaches with increasing sophistication. Transfection also introduced the use of fluorescent reporters, opening the field to dynamic real time microscopic observation. Parasite cell biologists have used these tools to take a fresh look at a classic problem: how do apicomplexans build the perfect invasion machine, the zoite, and how is this process fine-tuned to fit the specific niche of each pathogen in this ancient and very diverse group? This work has unearthed a treasure trove of novel structures and mechanisms that are the focus of this review.
PMID: 17604449 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]