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Recent advances in Leishmania reverse genetics: manipulating a manipulative parasite.

ABSTRACT

In this review we describe the expanding repertoire of molecular tools with which to study gene function in Leishmania. Specifically we review the tools available for studying functions of essential genes, such as plasmid shuffle and DiCre, as well as the rapidly expanding portfolio of available CRISPR/Cas9 approaches for large scale gene knockout and endogenous tagging. We include detail on approaches that allow the direct manipulation of RNA using RNAi and protein levels via Tet or DiCre induced overexpression and destabilization domain mediated degradation. The utilisation of current methods and the development of more advanced molecular tools will lead to greater understanding of the role of essential genes in the parasite and thereby more robust drug target validation, thereby paving the way for the development of novel therapeutics to treat this important disease.