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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 525241, 15 pages
Review Article

Gene Expression in Trypanosomatid Parasites

1Unidad de Biomedicina, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. De los Barrios 1, Col. Los Reyes Iztacala, Tlalnepantla, Edo. de México, CP 54090, Mexico
2Departmento de Biomedicina Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Apartado Postal 14-740, 07360 México, D.F., Mexico

Received 19 August 2009; Accepted 4 November 2009

Academic Editor: Luis I. Terrazas

Copyright © 2010 Santiago Martínez-Calvillo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The parasites Leishmania spp., Trypanosoma brucei, and Trypanosoma cruzi are the trypanosomatid protozoa that cause the deadly human diseases leishmaniasis, African sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease, respectively. These organisms possess unique mechanisms for gene expression such as constitutive polycistronic transcription of protein-coding genes and trans-splicing. Little is known about either the DNA sequences or the proteins that are involved in the initiation and termination of transcription in trypanosomatids. In silico analyses of the genome databases of these parasites led to the identification of a small number of proteins involved in gene expression. However, functional studies have revealed that trypanosomatids have more general transcription factors than originally estimated. Many posttranslational histone modifications, histone variants, and chromatin modifying enzymes have been identified in trypanosomatids, and recent genome-wide studies showed that epigenetic regulation might play a very important role in gene expression in this group of parasites. Here, we review and comment on the most recent findings related to transcription initiation and termination in trypanosomatid protozoa.