This Week in PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: Tracing the Justinianic Plague; Prudence in Diagnosing Rabies; the Functions of PolyP; Thermal Treatment for Leishmaniasis; and More

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Caffaro CE, Koshy AA, Liu L, Zeiner GM, Hirschberg CB, et al. (2013) A Nucleotide Sugar Transporter Involved in Glycosylation of the Toxoplasma Tissue Cyst Wall Is Required for Efficient Persistence of Bradyzoites. PLoS Pathog 9(5): e1003331. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003331

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS NTDs this week:

Chronic American cutaneous leishmaniasis is expensive and difficult to treat using conventional techniques that have major adverse side effects. In this paper Dr. Braulio Valencia and colleagues outline a low-cost heat treatment device that produces a therapeutic and stable thermal reaction ranging from 50-54°C. Patients treated during the pilot program experienced cure rates near the standard antimonial treatment.

In this systematic review article Dr. Philippe Carrara and colleagues examine the cases of sixty travelers and expatriates infected with rabies whose origins are from non-endemic nations. Their findings suggest that taking saliva samples and skin biopsies from those visiting rabies-enzootic countries is a prudent precaution, as a diagnosis of viral infection is not always clearly evident.

Exosomes are considered an important route of communication among cells, and depending on various factors these can have distinct effects on recipient cells. In this paper Drs. Kasra Hassani and Martin Olivier describe the effect of leishmania infection and LPS stimulation on protein-content and stimulatory properties of macrophage exosomes. Overall, these results give a deeper understanding of exosome biology and its role in the host-parasite interactions of leishmania.

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS Pathogens this week:

Of the three most devastating pandemics in human history only two have been linked to Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the plague known as the Black Death. However the first pandemic (the Justinianic Plague), which began in the 6th century is still a matter of controversy. Dr. Harbeck and colleagues detect Y. pestis DNA in samples obtained from multiple 6th century skeletons from Germany confirming that Justinianic Plague affected local populations there.

Polyphosphate (polyP) is a linear polymer found in bacteria, protists and mammalian cells of a few to many hundreds of phosphate (Pi) residues linked by high-energy phosphoanhydride bonds. In this Pearl, Drs. Moreno and Docampo discuss the functions of PolyP, the enzymes involved in PolyP metabolism, and their current role in pathogenesis.

It is widely accepted that the tissue cyst perimeter of Toxoplasma gondii is highly and specifically decorated with glycan modifications; however, the role of these modifications in the establishment and persistence of chronic infection has not been investigated. Dr. Caffaro and colleagues demonstrate for the first time the critical role of parasite glycoconjugates in the persistence of Toxoplasma tissue cysts.

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