Programmed Cell Death in African Trypanosomes

  • Katherine Figarella
  • Néstor L. Uzcátegui
  • Viola Denninger
  • Susan Welburn
  • Michael Duszenko
Part of the Molecular Biology Intelligence Unit book series (MBIU)


Since the discovery of programmed cell death in multicellular organisms and due to its definition as a mechanism to maintain the individual haemostasis of cellular and organ integrity, it was not plausible to think that such a phenomenon could also occur in unicellular organisms. However, during the last decade considerable experimental evidence has accumulated that confirm the existence of programmed (i.e., genetically encoded) mechanisms of cell death in a wide variety of single-cell organisms, including bacteria as well as free living and parasitic protozoa. Moreover, the discovery of biofilm formation and quorum sensing in bacteria1 and similar observations especially in protozoan parasites2 has changed our perception not to view unicellular organisms as selfish, self-contained and autonomous entities but as well organized cell populations expressing established communication patterns, thus resembling their multicellular counterparts. In this chapter we will summarize the most obvious findings regarding programmed cell death in African trypanosomes.


Unicellular Organism Human African Trypanosomiasis Trypanosoma Brucei Cell Death Differ Xanthurenic Acid 
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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Figarella
    • 1
  • Néstor L. Uzcátegui
    • 1
  • Viola Denninger
    • 1
  • Susan Welburn
    • 1
  • Michael Duszenko
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany

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