Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 301326, 21 pages
Review Article

Molecular Chaperones of Leishmania: Central Players in Many Stress-Related and -Unrelated Physiological Processes

1Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
2Departamento de Parasitología, Instituto de Medicina Tropical “Pedro Kourí”, 17100 Habana, Cuba

Received 7 March 2015; Accepted 24 May 2015

Academic Editor: Mehdi Chenik

Copyright © 2015 Jose M. Requena 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.


Molecular chaperones are key components in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and survival, not only during stress but also under optimal growth conditions. Folding of nascent polypeptides is supported by molecular chaperones, which avoid the formation of aggregates by preventing nonspecific interactions and aid, when necessary, the translocation of proteins to their correct intracellular localization. Furthermore, when proteins are damaged, molecular chaperones may also facilitate their refolding or, in the case of irreparable proteins, their removal by the protein degradation machinery of the cell. During their digenetic lifestyle, Leishmania parasites encounter and adapt to harsh environmental conditions, such as nutrient deficiency, hypoxia, oxidative stress, changing pH, and shifts in temperature; all these factors are potential triggers of cellular stress. We summarize here our current knowledge on the main types of molecular chaperones in Leishmania and their functions. Among them, heat shock proteins play important roles in adaptation and survival of this parasite against temperature changes associated with its passage from the poikilothermic insect vector to the warm-blooded vertebrate host. The study of structural features and the function of chaperones in Leishmania biology is providing opportunities (and challenges) for drug discovery and improving of current treatments against leishmaniasis.