Persistence of Trypanosoma brucei as early procyclic forms and social motility are dependent on glycosylphosphatidylinositol transamidase.

Knüsel, Sebastian; Jenni, Aurelio; Benninger, Mattias; Bütikofer, Peter; Roditi, Isabel (2022). Persistence of Trypanosoma brucei as early procyclic forms and social motility are dependent on glycosylphosphatidylinositol transamidase. Molecular microbiology, 117(4), pp. 802-817. Wiley 10.1111/mmi.14873

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Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked molecules are surface-exposed membrane components that influence the infectivity, virulence and transmission of many eukaryotic pathogens. Procyclic (insect midgut) forms of Trypanosoma brucei do not require GPI-anchored proteins for growth in suspension culture. Deletion of TbGPI8, and inactivation of the GPI:protein transamidase complex, is tolerated by cultured procyclic forms. Using a conditional knockout, we show TbGPI8 is required for social motility (SoMo). This collective migration by cultured early procyclic forms has been linked to colonization of the tsetse fly digestive tract. The SoMo-negative phenotype was observed after a lag phase with respect to loss of TbGPI8 and correlated with an unexpectedly slow loss of procyclins, the major GPI-anchored proteins. Procyclins are not essential for SoMo, however, suggesting a requirement for at least one other GPI-anchored protein. Loss of TbGPI8 initiates the transition from early to late procyclic forms; this effect was observed in a subpopulation in suspension culture, and was more pronounced when cells were cultured on SoMo plates. Our results indicate two, potentially interlinked, scenarios that may explain the previously reported failure of TbGPI8 deletion mutants to establish a midgut infection in the tsetse fly: interference with stage-specific gene expression and absence of SoMo.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Cell Biology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Knüsel, Sebastian, Jenni, Aurelio Leandro, Benninger, Mattias, Bütikofer, Peter, Roditi, Isabel


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Andrea Stettler

Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2022 12:56

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:27

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

GPI anchor GPI8 PIG-K differentiation social motility trypanosomes




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