Mitochondrial evolution and functions in malaria parasites.
Vaidya Akhil B,Mather Michael W
Annual review of microbiology
Mitochondria in malaria parasites have some unusual evolutionary and functional features. The drastic reduction in the size of their mitochondrial genome, encoding just three proteins, appears to have originated at the point of divergence of dinoflagellates and apicomplexan parasites from ciliates and may have accompanied the acquisition of plastids by the former. Unusual translational machinery as revealed by the highly fragmented mitochondrial ribosomal RNA genes also appears to have originated at this deflection point. Some of the biochemical properties of malarial mitochondria also appear to be unconventional. Although tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes are encoded by the genome, they do not appear to be involved in the full oxidation of glucose to fuel mitochondrial ATP synthesis in the blood stages of malaria parasites. A critical role of the mitochondrial electron transport chain appears to be to serve pyrimidine biosynthesis. In spite of their minimal nature, Plasmodium mitochondria are attractive targets for antimalarial drugs.
Mitochondrial dynamics in parasitic protists.
Voleman Luboš,Doležal Pavel
The shape and number of mitochondria respond to the metabolic needs during the cell cycle of the eukaryotic cell. In the best-studied model systems of animals and fungi, the cells contain many mitochondria, each carrying its own nucleoid. The organelles, however, mostly exist as a dynamic network, which undergoes constant cycles of division and fusion. These mitochondrial dynamics are driven by intricate protein machineries centered around dynamin-related proteins (DRPs). Here, we review recent advances on the dynamics of mitochondria and mitochondrion-related organelles (MROs) of parasitic protists. In contrast to animals and fungi, many parasitic protists from groups of Apicomplexa or Kinetoplastida carry only a single mitochondrion with a single nucleoid. In these groups, mitochondrial division is strictly coupled to the cell cycle, and the morphology of the organelle responds to the cell differentiation during the parasite life cycle. On the other hand, anaerobic parasitic protists such as Giardia, Entamoeba, and Trichomonas contain multiple MROs that have lost their organellar genomes. We discuss the function of DRPs, the occurrence of mitochondrial fusion, and mitophagy in the parasitic protists from the perspective of eukaryote evolution.
Medical Parasitology Taxonomy Update, 2016-2017.
Mathison Blaine A,Pritt Bobbi S
Journal of clinical microbiology
Parasite taxonomy continues to change as molecular and morphologic studies enhance our understanding of parasite relatedness. This minireview builds on the information provided in the last taxonomy update in this journal to summarize new and revised clinically relevant human parasite taxonomic changes that have occurred in 2016 and 2017.
Post-genomic progress in helminth parasitology.
Helminth parasitology is an important discipline, which poses often unique technical challenges. One challenge is that helminth parasites, particularly those in humans, are often difficult to obtain alive and in sufficient quantities for study; another is the challenge of studying these organisms in vitro - no helminth parasite life cycle has been fully recapitulated outside of a host. Arguably, the key issue retarding progress in helminth parasitology has been a lack of experimental tools and resources, certainly relative to the riches that have driven many parasitologists to adopt free-living model organisms as surrogate systems. In response to these needs, the past 10-12 years have seen the beginnings of helminth parasitology's journey into the 'omics' era, with the release of abundant sequencing resources, and the functional genomics tools with which to test biological hypotheses. To reflect this progress, the 2019 Autumn Symposium of the British Society for Parasitology was held in Queen's University Belfast on the topic of 'post-genomic progress in helminth parasitology'. This issue presents examples of the current state of play in the field, while this editorial summarizes how genomic datasets and functional genomic tools have stimulated impressive recent progress in our understanding of parasite biology.