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European journal of biochemistry

Slender and stumpy bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei display a differential response to extracellular acidic and proteolytic stress.


PMID 10601846

Abstract

Natural infections of mammals with African trypanosomes, such as Trypanosoma brucei, are generally pleomorphic, the population consisting of different forms, termed slender and stumpy forms, that vary in number as the parasitaemia develops. We show that the differentiation of slender into stumpy forms is characterized by the acquisition by the parasite of the ability to regulate its internal pH, even in the face of a large, inwardly directed gradient of H+, as well as a tolerance towards external proteolytic stress. These adaptations effectively abbrogate cellular stress-activated signalling pathways involving adenylate cyclase and glycosylphosphoinositol-specific phospholipase-C mediated release of the surface coat. Although in metabolic terms stumpy forms of the parasite are considered to be preadapted to life in the arthropod vector, these data clearly demonstrate that these forms also possess additional cellular adaptations designed to deal with the immediate and potentially harmful changes in the extracellular environment that occur upon ingestion of a bloodmeal by the tsetse fly vector.

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