The net closes on trypanosomatids

Alberto MR Dávila, Kevin M Tyler
2001 Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  
At the turn of the last century, Africa faced an epidemic of sleeping sickness. For a while in the 70's, with the advent and targeted use of insecticides like DDT, it seemed the disease would be eradicated. Today, Africa faces another sleeping sickness epidemic, which it seems little better equipped to respond to than it was a century ago and sleeping sickness looks to be a disease which may be with us for a long time to come. For this reason, the Third Internet Conference on Salivarian
more » ... Salivarian Trypanosomes and Trypanosomatids was designed as a virtual world meeting specifically targeted at providing a real world focus for basic scientists working with trypanosomes. The conference was free, spread over a two-week period and consisted of six sessions' a focused debate and a poster session. The full proceedings are published in the International Journal for Parasitology 31(5-6), May, 2001. In statesman like keynote addresses to conference, two of the most senior figures in the field, George Cross and J Richard Seed reviewed the key advances and failures of the last century. Their presentations tackled the potential impact of current new technologies and the political, social and economic realities in which the pipeline from science to public health must operate in order to tackle sleeping sickness. They also went on to address the future of trypanosome research and integrated control approaches in public health. BIOLOGY AND ULTRASTRUCTURE Keith Gull kicked off the scientific proceedings with a philosophical review of kinetoplastid cell biology. He asked and answered questions about how to utilize the vast amounts of information and new tools generated by current genome projects to pursue fundamental biological questions associated with the kinetoplastida in a post genomic era. The mechanisms by which the catenated mass of minicircles and maxicircles composing the kinetoplast is replicated and segregated with fidelity in each cell cycle has been on of the most intriguing areas of research in kinetoplastid biology. James Morris and colleagues from the Englund lab reviewed current thinking on kinetoplast replication going on to propose a model in which the kinetoplast actually spins to ensure a uniform distribution of minicircles in the periphery. Michel Dollet discussed the extreme heterogeneity within the genus Phytomonas (plant trypanosomatids) and described the characterization of a monophyletic group of phloem restricted trypanosomatids -the "phloemicola". Peter Overath and colleagues discussed the evolutionary significance of their observation that the presence of highly immunogenic surface proteins was peculiar to the salivaria, with non-salivarian trypanosomes having weakly immunogenic mucin-like carbohydrate-rich glycoproteins on their surface instead. Finally, one of us (KMT) presented an updated life cycle for Trypanosoma cruzi highlighting unresolved areas of interest. BIOCHEMISTRY AND DRUG DEVELOPMENT The first presentation of the session by Fred Opperdoes and Paul Michels reviewed the progress made in developing glycolysis enzymes as drug targets since the discovery that glycolysis is partially compartmentalized in the trypanosome's glycosome. They then moved on to describing current work characterizing the enzymes of the pentose phosphate pathway. Thomas Seebeck presented a digest of his labs recent work investigating cAMP signalling in trypanosomes, highlighting, and the characterization new genes in the cAMP-signalling pathway including a new family of phosphodiesterases as possible therapeutic targets. A complimentary presentation from Mecia Oliveira demonstrated that disruption of inositol metabolism in T. cruzi was a valid target for chemotherapy. Together, these papers sparked considerable discussion as to the respective roles on inositol, calcium and cAMP signalling in trypanosome differentiation and proliferation. Herb Tanowitz presented data on the activation of the
doi:10.1590/s0074-02762001000700025 fatcat:ck4wj4neajdn5kfe7ibfzqf7gi