Cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie Entamoeba histolytica pathogenesis: prospects for intervention
The protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica is the causative agent of amoebic dysentery. It is prevalent in developing countries that cannot prevent its fecal–oral spread and ranks second in worldwide causes of morbidity by parasitic infection. Improvements in sanitation would help curb disease spread. However, a lack of significant progress in this area has resulted in the need for a better understanding of the molecular and cellular biology of pathogenesis in order to design novel methods of disease treatment and prevention. Recent insight into the cellular mechanisms regulating virulence of E. histolytica has indicated that processes such as endocytosis, secretion, host cell adhesion and encystation play major roles in the infectious process. This review focuses on components of the molecular machinery that govern these cellular processes and their role in virulence, and discusses how an understanding of this might reveal opportunities to interfere with E. histolytica infection.
Key Words: adhesion; cysteine protease; encystation; Entamoeba; pinocytosis; phagocytosis; Rab; Rac; secretion.
c1 Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, 132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634, USA. Tel: +1 864 656 6387; Fax: +1 864 656 0435; E-mail: [email protected]