1932

Abstract

Recent developments in single-cell and single-molecule techniques have revealed surprising levels of heterogeneity among isogenic cells. These advances have transformed the study of cell-to-cell heterogeneity into a major area of biomedical research, revealing that it can confer essential advantages, such as priming populations of unicellular organisms for future environmental stresses. Protozoan parasites, such as trypanosomes, face multiple and often hostile environments, and to survive, they undergo multiple changes, including changes in morphology, gene expression, and metabolism. But why does only a subset of proliferative cells differentiate to the next life cycle stage? Why do only some bloodstream parasites undergo antigenic switching while others stably express one variant surface glycoprotein? And why do some parasites invade an organ while others remain in the bloodstream? Building on extensive research performed in bacteria, here we suggest that biological noise can contribute to the fitness of eukaryotic pathogens and discuss the importance of cell-to-cell heterogeneity in trypanosome infections.

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2021-10-08
2024-04-22
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