The cytoskeleton of trypanosomatid parasites

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1999;53:629-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.53.1.629.


Species of the trypanosomatid parasite genera Trypanosoma and Leishmania exhibit a particular range of cell shapes that are defined by their internal cytoskeletons. The cytoskeleton is characterized by a subpellicular corset of microtubules that are cross-linked to each other and to the plasma membrane. Trypanosomatid cells possess an extremely precise organization of microtubules and filaments, with some of their organelles, such as the mitochondria, kinetoplasts, basal bodies, and flagella, present as single copies in each cell. The duplication of these structures and changes in their position during life cycle differentiations provide markers and insight into events involved in determining cell form and division. We have a rapidly increasing catalog of these structures, their molecular cytology, and their ontogeny. The current sophistication of available molecular genetic techniques for use in these organisms has allowed a new functional analysis of the cytoskeleton, including functions that are intrinsic to the proliferation and pathogenicity of these parasites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Leishmania / genetics
  • Leishmania / pathogenicity
  • Leishmania / physiology
  • Leishmania / ultrastructure
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Trypanosoma / pathogenicity
  • Trypanosoma / physiology
  • Trypanosoma / ultrastructure
  • Trypanosomatina / genetics
  • Trypanosomatina / pathogenicity
  • Trypanosomatina / physiology*
  • Trypanosomatina / ultrastructure*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins