One of the more accepted concepts in our understanding of the biology of early Trypanosoma cruzi-host cell interactions is that the mammalian-infective trypomastigote forms of the parasite must transit the host cell lysosomal compartment in order to establish a productive intracellular infection. The acidic environment of the lysosome provides the appropriate conditions for parasite-mediated disruption of the parasitophorous vacuole and release of T. cruzi into the host cell cytosol, where replication of intracellular amastigotes occurs. Recent findings indicate a level of redundancy in the lysosome-targeting process where T. cruzi trypomastigotes exploit different cellular pathways to access host cell lysosomes in non-professional phagocytic cells. In addition, the reversible nature of the host cell penetration process was recently demonstrated when conditions for fusion of the nascent parasite vacuole with the host endosomal-lysosomal system were not met. Thus, the concept of parasite retention as a critical component of the T. cruzi invasion process was introduced. Although it is clear that host cell recognition, attachment and signalling are required to initiate invasion, integration of this knowledge with our understanding of the different routes of parasite entry is largely lacking. In this chapter, we focus on current knowledge of the cellular pathways exploited by T. cruzi trypomastigotes to invade non-professional phagocytic cells and to gain access to the host cell lysosome compartment.
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