Adaptation and Therapeutic Exploitation of the Plasma Membrane of African Trypanosomes.

Quintana JF, Canavate R, Pino D, Yamada K, Zhang N, Field MC.

Genes 2018, 9, 368.

African trypanosomes are highly divergent from their metazoan hosts, and as part of adaptation to a parasitic life style have developed a unique endomembrane system. The key virulence mechanism of many pathogens is successful immune evasion, to enable survival within a host, a feature that requires both genetic events and membrane transport mechanisms in African trypanosomes. Intracellular trafficking not only plays a role in immune evasion, but also in homeostasis of intracellular and extracellular compartments and interactions with the environment. Significantly, historical and recent work has unraveled some of the connections between these processes and highlighted how immune evasion mechanisms that are associated with adaptations to membrane trafficking may have, paradoxically, provided specific sensitivity to drugs. Here, we explore these advances in understanding the membrane composition of the trypanosome plasma membrane and organelles and provide a perspective for how transport could be exploited for therapeutic purposes.