Trypanosomatid parasites (Trypanosoma and Leishmania species) cause deadly diseases in humans and livestock. Current treatments are often toxic and difficult to administer in endemic regions (mainly Third World countries). The need for new anti-trypanosomatid drugs has never been greater. As one of the earliest branching eukaryotic lineages, trypanosomes display a number of unusual biological properties. One property without counterpart in nature is their amazing mitochondrial DNA known as kinetoplast DNA (kDNA). The kDNA is a network containing thousands of catenated DNA molecules (minicircles and maxicircles, figure at left). We are interested in studying proteins involved in replicating this novel structure. Our primary focus is on a family of 4 DNA polymerases (Pol) from Trypanosoma brucei (Klingbeil et al., Mol. Cell 10, p. 175-186, figure at right) that are related to bacterial Pol I, all of which localize to the mitochondrion.This Pol I-like family is present in all the major trypanosomatid parasites, but not in mammals.
- PhD Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Toledo, 1996