Molecular basis ofCryptosporidium–host cell interactions: recent advances and future prospects

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Abstract

Host–parasite interactions mediating attachment of Cryptosporidium spp. to host cells and invasion of the cell membrane are complex processes that involve multiple parasite and host molecules. Knowledge of the molecular basis of these processes is crucial for understanding the pathogenic mechanisms underlying infection and for designing strategies to combat cryptosporidiosis. Recent progress in this field has been greatly facilitated by the completion of the genome sequences of Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis and by success in heterologous expression of Cryptosporidium genes in the related apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii. However, although a number of Cryptosporidium proteins implicated in mediating host–parasite interactions have been identified, progress in establishing their functional role has been hindered by the inability to genetically manipulate the parasite and to continuously propagate it in vitro. This article reviews the recent advances in knowledge regarding the Cryptosporidium proteins mediating attachment to and invasion of host epithelial cells, and outlines prospects for future research in this field.

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