Leishmania sand fly interaction: progress and challenges

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2008 Aug;11(4):340-4. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2008.06.003. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


Complex interactions occurs between Leishmania parasites and their sand fly vectors. Promastigotes of Leishmania live exclusively within the gut, possess flagella and are motile, and kinesins, kinases and G proteins have been described that play a role in regulating flagellar assembly. Movement within the gut is not random: promastigotes can detect gradients of solutes via chemotaxis and osmotaxis. Further they use their flagella to attach to the fly midgut using surface glyconconjugates, a key step in establishment of the infection. Differentiation of mammal-infective stages is characterised by significant biochemical and cellular remodelling. Further, the parasites can manipulate the behaviour of the vector to maximise their transmission, and flies may even deliver altruistic apoptotic forms to aid transmission of infective stages.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Disease Vectors*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / parasitology
  • Leishmania / physiology*
  • Locomotion
  • Psychodidae / parasitology*