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African trypanosomes show a remarkable ability to survive as extracellular parasites in the blood and tissue spaces of an infected mammal. Throughout the infection they are exposed to the molecules and cells of the immune system, including complement. In this opinion piece, we review decades-worth of evidence about how complement affects African trypanosomes. We highlight the discovery of a trypanosome receptor for complement C3 and we critically assess three recent studies which attempt to provide a structural and mechanistic view of how this receptor helps trypanosomes to survive in the presence of complement.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Parasitol

Publication Date



African trypanosome, ISG65, complement factor C3, complement system