Leishmania are parasitic protozoa which infect humans and cause severe morbidity and mortality. Leishmania parasitise as extracellular promastigotes in the insect vector and as intracellular amastigotes in the mammalian host. Cycling between hosts involves implementation of stringent and co-ordinated responses to shifting environmental conditions. One of the key dynamic aspects of Leishmania biology is substrate acquisition and metabolism. Genomic analyses have revealed that Leishmania encode many putative membrane transporters, many of which are differentially expressed during the parasite life cycle. Only a small fraction of these transporters, however, have been functionally characterised. Currently, most information is available about nutrient transporters, mainly involved in carbohydrate, amino acid, nucleobase and nucleoside, cofactor, and ion acquisition. Several have apparent roles in Leishmania virulence and will be discussed in this perspective.

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