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Acanthamoeba induced apoptosis in vertebrate cells

Page updated 13/8/02
Apoptosis is programmed cell death (as distinct from necrosis).  That is a series of events leading to the transcription of genes whose actions bring about the death of the cell.  It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that cells behave in this way but especially for muti-cellular organisms this is an important mechanism to avoid pathogens and in development.  The fingers of the human hand exist because cells between our fingers died through apoptosis during the development of the limb bud.   It is well known that factor(s) produced from Acanthamoeba are cytotoxic, but some evidence suggests that this toxicity is mediated in part by the activation of apoptotic pathways in the infected cells (Alizadeh et al, 1994; Mattana et al, 1997). The details are sketchy at present, but if true then we could hope to circumvent trauma to cornea and other tissues by treating the region with drugs that temporally reduce apoptotic cell death.


Acanthamoeba cytotoxins Acanthamoeba proteases Acanthamoeba pathogenesis

Alizadeh, H., Pidherney, M. S., McCulley, J. P. & Niederkorn, J. Y. (1994) Apoptosis as a mechanism of cytolysis of tumor cells by a pathogenic free-living amoeba, Infect.Immun. 62, 1298-1303.

Dove Pettit, D. A., Williamson, J., Cabral, G. A. & Marciano-Cabral, F. (1996) In vitro destruction of nerve cell cultures by Acanthamoeba spp.: A transmission and scanning electron microscopic study, J.Parasitol. 82, 769-777.

Mattana, A., Bennardini, F., Usai, S., Fiori, P. L., Franconi, F. & Cappuccinelli, P. (1997) Acanthamoeba castellanii metabolite increase the intracellular calcium level and cause cytotoxicity in Wish cells. Microbial Pathogens. 23, 85-93.

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