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New Approaches to the Microscopic Imaging of Trypanosoma brucei

  • Mark C. Field (a1), Clare L. Allen (a1), Vivek Dhir (a1), David Goulding (a1), Belinda S. Hall (a1), Gareth W. Morgan (a1), Paul Veazey (a1) and Markus Engstler (a2)...


Protozoan parasites are fearsome pathogens responsible for a substantial proportion of human mortality, morbidity, and economic hardship. The principal disease agents are members of the orders Apicomplexa (Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Eimeria) and Kinetoplastida (Trypanosomes, Leishmania). The majority of humans are at risk from infection from one or more of these organisms, with profound effects on the economy, social structure and quality of life in endemic areas; Plasmodium itself accounts for over one million deaths per annum, and an estimated 4 × 107 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), whereas the Kinetoplastida are responsible for over 100,000 deaths per annum and 4 × 106 DALYs. Current control strategies are failing due to drug resistance and inadequate implementation of existing public health strategies. Trypanosoma brucei, the African Trypanosome, has emerged as a favored model system for the study of basic cell biology in Kinetoplastida, because of several recent technical advances (transfection, inducible expression systems, and RNA interference), and these advantages, together with genome sequencing efforts are widely anticipated to provide new strategies of therapeutic intervention. Here we describe a suite of methods that have been developed for the microscopic analysis of T. brucei at the light and ultrastructural levels, an essential component of analysis of gene function and hence identification of therapeutic targets.


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