Author(s): Ribeiro P, Gupta V, ElSakkary N
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Abstract Biogenic amines are small cationic monoamines that function broadly as neurotransmitters and/or neuromodulators in every animal phylum. They include such ubiquitous substances as serotonin, dopamine and invertebrate-specific phenolamines (tyramine, octopamine), among others. Biogenic amines are important neuroactive agents in all the flatworms, including blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma, the etiological agents of human schistosomiasis. A large body of evidence spanning nearly five decades identifies biogenic amines as major modulators of neuromuscular function in schistosomes, controlling movement, attachment to the host and other fundamental behaviors. Recent advances in schistosome genomics have made it possible to dissect the molecular mechanisms responsible for these effects and to identify the proteins involved. These efforts have already provided important new information about the mode of action of amine transmitters in the parasite. Moreover, these advances are continuing, as the field moves into a post-genomics era, and new molecular tools for gene and protein analysis are becoming available. Here, we review the current status of this research and discuss future prospects. In particular, we focus our attention on the receptors that mediate biogenic amine activity, their structural characteristics, functional properties and "druggability" potential. One of the themes that will emerge from this discussion is that schistosomes have a rich diversity of aminergic receptors, many of which share little sequence homology with those of the human host, making them ideally suited for selective drug targeting. Strategies for the characterization of these important parasite proteins will be discussed.
This article was published in Invert Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals