Polyamines are aliphatic polycations that function in key cellular processes such as growth, differentiation, and macromolecular biosynthesis. Intracellular polyamines pools are maintained from de novo synthesis and from transport of polyamines from the extracellular milieu. This acquisition of exogenous polyamines is mediated by cell surface transporter proteins. Protozoan parasites are the etiologic agents of a plethora of devastating and often fatal diseases in humans and their domestic animals. These pathogens accommodate de novo and/or salvage mechanisms for polyamine acquisition. Because of its therapeutic relevance, the polyamine biosynthetic pathway has been thoroughly investigated in many genera of protozoan parasites, but the polyamine permeation pathways have generally been ignored. Our group has now identified at the molecular level polyamine transporters from two species of protozoan parasites, Leishmania major and Trypanosoma cruzi, characterized these polytopic proteins with respect to ligand specificities and affinities, and determined the subcellular environments in which these transporters reside.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology