Dressed for Success: The Surface Coats of Insect-Borne Protozoan Parasites

Trends Microbiol. 2002 Mar;10(3):128-34. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(02)02309-0.


Three major human diseases, malaria, sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis, are caused by protozoan parasites that are transmitted by blood-sucking insects. These insects are not mere 'flying syringes' that mechanically transfer parasites from one mammal to the next. Instead, they provide a specific environment--albeit not a particularly hospitable one--in which the parasites differentiate, proliferate and migrate to the correct tissues to ensure transmission to the next mammalian host. Recent studies on the role of parasite surface molecules in insect vectors have delivered some surprises and could provide insights on ways to interrupt transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diptera / parasitology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Plasmodium / genetics
  • Plasmodium / growth & development
  • Plasmodium / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Infections / parasitology
  • Protozoan Infections / transmission
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Trypanosomatina / genetics
  • Trypanosomatina / growth & development
  • Trypanosomatina / metabolism*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins