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Molecular tools for analysis of gene function in parasitic microorganisms

Abstract

With the completion of several genome sequences for parasitic protozoa, research in molecular parasitology entered the “post-genomic” era. Accompanied by global transcriptome and proteome analysis, huge datasets have been generated that have added many novel candidates to the list of drug and vaccine targets. The challenge is now to validate these factors and to bring science back to the bench to perform a detailed characterization. In some parasites, like Trypanosoma brucei, high-throughput genetic screens have been established using RNA interference [for a detailed review, see Motyka and Englund (2004)]. In most protozoan parasites, however, more time-consuming approaches have to be employed to identify and characterize the function of promising candidates in detail. This review aims to summarize the status of molecular genetic tools available for a variety of protozoan pathogens and discuss how they can be implemented to advance our understanding of parasite biology.

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Acknowledgment

We thank all the investigators who are investing time on tool development in protozoa for the recent advances, some of which we were not able to mention due to space restrictions. We are indebted to Dr. Friedrich Frischknecht and Dr. Angelika Herm-Götz for carefully reading the manuscript. M.M. is funded by the BioFuture programme of the BMBF, C.A.-N. is funded by the Schwerpunktprogramm 688 of the DFG. The research of W.J.S. is supported by the Public Health Service grant GM065051 from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association (0750201Z).

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Correspondence to Markus Meissner.

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Meissner, M., Agop-Nersesian, C. & Sullivan, W.J. Molecular tools for analysis of gene function in parasitic microorganisms. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 75, 963–975 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-007-0946-4

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Keywords

  • Protozoan parasites
  • Transfection
  • Recombinase
  • Transcription
  • Inducible system
  • RNA interference