African trypanosomes have a remarkable mitochondrial DNA termed kDNA (kinetoplast DNA) that contains several thousands of topologically interlocked DNA rings. Because of its highly unusual structure, kDNA has a complex replication mechanism. Our approach to understanding this mechanism is to identify the proteins involved and to characterize their function. So far approx. 30 candidate proteins have been discovered and we predict that there are over 100. To identify genes for more kDNA replication proteins, we are using an RNA interference library, which is the first forward genetic approach used for these parasites.

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