A key component of the life history of metazoans is the ability of their cells to undergo cell death programmes characterised by a sequence of morphological and biochemical changes. Parasites and pathogens can induce or inhibit these programmes in ways that may determine the outcome of disease. Evidence that programmed cell death also occurs in unicellular organisms, including parasitic protozoans, is rapidly growing. Although they display the same morphological markers as metazoans, molecular mechanisms and functions clearly differ. It is thus timely to consider our current understanding of life or death decisions in both protozoans and the host cells they inhabit.
Reviews have been compiled by members of the COST Action BM0802, Life or Death of Protozoan Parasites http://www.lodopp.net/.
This thematic series is supported by COST.
Collection published: 9 November 2010
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