Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Acetate produced in the mitochondrion is the essential precursor for lipid biosynthesis in procyclic trypanosomes.

PMID 19625628


Acetyl-CoA produced in mitochondria from carbohydrate or amino acid catabolism needs to reach the cytosol to initiate de novo synthesis of fatty acids. All eukaryotes analyzed so far use a citrate/malate shuttle to transfer acetyl group equivalents from the mitochondrial matrix to the cytosol. Here we investigate how this acetyl group transfer occurs in the procyclic life cycle stage of Trypanosoma brucei, a protozoan parasite responsible of human sleeping sickness and economically important livestock diseases. Deletion of the potential citrate lyase gene, a critical cytosolic enzyme of the citrate/malate shuttle, has no effect on de novo biosynthesis of fatty acids from (14)C-labeled glucose, indicating that another route is used for acetyl group transfer. Because acetate is produced from acetyl-CoA in the mitochondrion of this parasite, we considered genes encoding cytosolic enzymes producing acetyl-CoA from acetate. We identified an acetyl-CoA synthetase gene encoding a cytosolic enzyme (AceCS), which is essential for cell viability. Repression of AceCS by inducible RNAi results in a 20-fold reduction of (14)C-incorporation from radiolabeled glucose or acetate into de novo synthesized fatty acids. Thus, we demonstrate that the essential cytosolic enzyme AceCS of T. brucei is responsible for activation of acetate into acetyl-CoA to feed de novo biosynthesis of lipids. To date, Trypanosoma is the only known eukaryotic organism that uses acetate instead of citrate to transfer acetyl groups over the mitochondrial membrane for cytosolic lipid synthesis.

Related Materials