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Trypanosomatid protein kinases as potential drug targets.

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Abstract

The trypanosomatid protozoa include the medically important parasites Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania. They are responsible for a wide range of diseases which blight the developing nations of the world. Current chemotherapy to treat these diseases is far from ideal and many different approaches are being taken to identify new drug targets. One family of potential drug targets are the protozoan protein kinases. Protein kinases are ubiquitous in eukaryotes and act in many different intracellular signalling pathways affecting for example: differentiation, proliferation, motility, and apoptosis. Within parasitic protozoa, several protein kinases play essential roles and disruption of their activity is seriously deleterious to the parasite. Moreover, despite homology to their mammalian counterparts, protozoan protein kinases are significantly different in ways which open up the possibility of developing parasite-selective inhibitors. In this article, we will outline the current knowledge of important parasite protein kinases and discuss their suitability as novel drug targets.