K(+) channels play a vital homeostatic role in cells and abnormal activity of these channels can dramatically alter cell function and survival, suggesting that they might be attractive drug targets in pathogenic organisms. Pathogenic protozoa lead to diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis and dysentery that are responsible for millions of deaths each year worldwide. The genomes of many protozoan parasites have recently been sequenced, allowing rational design of targeted therapies. We analyzed the genomes of pathogenic protozoa and show the existence within them of genes encoding putative homologues of K(+) channels. These protozoan K(+) channel homologues represent novel targets for anti-parasitic drugs. Differences in the sequences and diversity of human and parasite proteins may allow pathogen-specific targeting of these K(+) channel homologues.
- channel coding