A transposon toolkit for gene transfer and mutagenesis in protozoan parasites
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- Damasceno, J.D., Beverley, S.M. & Tosi, L.R.O. Genetica (2010) 138: 301. doi:10.1007/s10709-009-9406-7
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Protozoan parasites affect millions of people around the world. Treatment and control of these diseases are complicated partly due to the intricate biology of these organisms. The interactions of species of Plasmodium, Leishmania and trypanosomes with their hosts are mediated by an unusual control of gene expression that is not fully understood. The availability of the genome sequence of these protozoa sets the stage for using more comprehensive, genome-wide strategies to study gene function. Transposons are effective tools for the systematic introduction of genetic alterations and different transposition systems have been adapted to study gene function in these human pathogens. A mariner transposon toolkit for use in vivo or in vitro in Leishmania parasites has been developed and can be used in a variety of applications. These modified mariner elements not only permit the inactivation of genes, but also mediate the rescue of translational gene fusions, bringing a major contribution to the investigation of Leishmania gene function. The piggyBac and Tn5 transposons have also been shown to mobilize across Plasmodium spp. genomes circumventing the current limitations in the genetic manipulation of these organisms.