Rafts and sphingolipid biosynthesis in the kinetoplastid parasitic protozoa

Paul W Denny, Deborah F Smith

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Summary relatively large rafts are a feature of activated mammalian cells. These studies allow us to consider the functional role of lipid rafts in kinetoplastid parasites, which are particularly rich in lipid-anchored surface molecules. Morphological, biochemical and genetic studies indicate that lipid rafts (and sphingolipid biosythesis) are important in the differentiation of extracellular Leishmania to mammalian-infective metacyclic promastigotes, perhaps orchestrating the clearly observable reorganization of the plasma membrane during this process that leads to an activated metacyclic primed for invasion. However, the first step in the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway (mediated by serine palmitoyltransferase), and at least regulated, de novo sphingoid base and ceramide synthesis, are not essential for the pathogenesis of intramacrophage Leishmania amastigotes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-33
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd


  • Animals
  • Eukaryota
  • Kinetoplastida
  • Leishmania
  • Mammals
  • Membrane Microdomains
  • Sphingolipids

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