Characterization of choline uptake in Trypanosoma brucei and involvement of a mitochondrial carrier in resistance to choline analogs

Pereira de Macêdo, Juan (2014). Characterization of choline uptake in Trypanosoma brucei and involvement of a mitochondrial carrier in resistance to choline analogs. (Dissertation, University of Bern, Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences)

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Choline is an essential nutrient for eukaryotic cells, where it is used as precursor for the synthesis of choline-­containing phospholipids, such as phosphatidylcholine (PC). Our experiments showed – for the first time – that Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of human African sleeping sickness, is able to take up choline from the culture medium to use for PC synthesis, indicating that trypanosomes express a transporter for choline at the plasma membrane. Further characterization in procyclic and bloodstream forms revealed that choline uptake is saturable and can be inhibited by HC-3, a known inhibitor of choline uptake in mammalian cells. To obtain additional insights on choline uptake and metabolism, we investigated the effects of choline-analogs that were previously shown to be toxic for T. brucei parasites in culture. Interestingly, we found that all analogs tested effectively inhibited choline uptake into both bloodstream and procyclic form parasites. Subsequently, selected compounds were used to search for possible candidate genes encoding choline transporters in T. brucei, using an RNAi library in bloodstream forms. We identified a protein belonging to the mitochondrial carrier family, previously annotated as TbMCP14, as prime candidate. Down‐regulation of TbMCP14 by RNAi prevented drug-­induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and conferred 8­‐fold resistance of T. brucei bloodstream forms to choline analogs. Conversely, over‐expression of the carrier increased parasite susceptibility more than 13-­fold. However, subsequent experiments demonstrated that TbMCP14 was not involved in metabolism of choline. Instead, growth curves in glucose‐depleted medium using RNAi or knock‐out parasites suggested that TbMCP14 is involved in metabolism of amino acids for energy production. Together, our data demonstrate that the identified member of the mitochondrial carrier family is involved in drug uptake into the mitochondrion and has a vital function in energy production in T. brucei.

Item Type:

Thesis (Dissertation)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Pereira de Macêdo, Juan and Bütikofer, Peter


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




Igor Peter Hammer

Date Deposited:

29 Dec 2014 11:33

Last Modified:

30 Dec 2014 02:30



Additional Information:

e-Dissertation (edbe)

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Trypanosoma Choline Transport Phosphatidylcholine Kinetics




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