a1 Faculty of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
a2 Centre for Molecular Bioinformatics, Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica, Rome, Italy
Leishmania are obligatory intracellular parasitic protozoa that cycle between sand fly mid-gut and phagolysosomes of mammalian macrophages. They have developed genetically programmed changes in gene and protein expression that enable rapid optimization of cell function according to vector and host environments. During the last two decades, host-free systems that mimic intra-lysosomal environments have been devised in which promastigotes differentiate into amastigotes axenically. These cultures have facilitated detailed investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying Leishmania development inside its host. Axenic promastigotes and amastigotes have been subjected to transcriptome and proteomic analyses. Development had appeared somewhat variable but was revealed by proteomics to be strictly coordinated and regulated. Here we summarize the current understanding of Leishmania promastigote to amastigote differentiation, highlighting the data generated by proteomics.
(Received September 19 2011)
(Revised December 31 2011)
(Accepted January 12 2012)
(Online publication February 28 2012)