Parasitic diseases affect low-income nations with health consequences that affect the economy of these countries. Research aimed at understanding their biology and identification of potential targets for drug development is of the highest priority. Inhibitors of channels formed by proteins of the gap junction family such as suramin and probenecid are currently used for treatment of parasitic diseases caused by pathogenic protozoan. Gap junction proteins are present in both vertebrates and invertebrates permitting direct and indirect cellular communication. These cellular specializations are formed by two protein families corresponding to connexins (vertebrates) and innexins (invertebrates). In addition, a third protein family composed by proteins denominated pannexins is present in vertebrates and shows primary sequence homology to innexins. Channels formed by these proteins are essential in many biological processes. Recent evidences suggest that gap junction proteins play a critical role in bacterial and viral infections. Nonetheless, little is known about the role of these channels in parasitic infections. In this chapter, we summarized the current knowledge about the role of gap junction family proteins and channels in parasitic infections.
Part of the book: Natural Remedies in the Fight Against Parasites