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Keywords:

  • Nucleoside transporter;
  • Nucleobase transporter;
  • Chemotherapy;
  • Pathogenic protozoa;
  • Transporter structure;
  • Purine salvage

Abstract

Purine salvage is an essential function for all obligate parasitic protozoa studied to date and most are also capable of efficient uptake of preformed pyrimidines. Much progress has been made in the identification and characterisation of protozoan purine and pyrimidine transporters. While the genes encoding protozoan or metazoan pyrimidine transporters have yet to be identified, numerous purine transporters have now been cloned. All protozoan purine transporter-encoding genes characterised to date have been of the Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter family conserved in a great variety of eukaryote organisms. However, these protozoan transporters have been shown to be sufficiently different from mammalian transporters to mediate selective uptake of therapeutic agents. Recent studies are increasingly addressing the structure and substrate recognition mechanisms of these vital transport proteins.