Trypanosomatidae are protozoans that include monogenetic parasites, such as the Blastocrithidia and Herpetomonas genera, as well as digenetic parasites, such as the Trypanosoma and Leishmania genera. Their life cycles alternate between insect vectors and mammalian hosts. The parasite’s life cycle involves symmetrical division and different transitional developmental stages. In trypanosomatids, the cytoskeleton is composed of subpellicular microtubules organized in a highly ordered array of stable microtubules located beneath the plasma membrane, the paraflagellar rod, which is a lattice-like structure attached alongside the flagellar axoneme and a cytostome-cytopharynx. The complex life cycle, the extremely precise cytoskeletal organization and the single copy structures present in trypanosomatids provide interesting models for cell biology studies. The introduction of molecular biology, FIB/SEM (focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy) and electron microscopy tomography approaches and classical methods, such as negative staining, chemical fixation and ultrafast cryofixation have led to the determination of the three-dimensional (3D) structural organization of the cells. In this chapter, we highlight the recent findings on Trypanosomatidae cytoskeleton emphasizing their structural organization and the functional role of proteins involved in the biogenesis and duplication of cytoskeletal structures. The principal finding of this review is that all approaches listed above enhance our knowledge of trypanosomatids biology showing that cytoskeleton elements are essential to several important events throughout the protozoan life cycle.
Part of the book: Cytoskeleton