[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The multivesicular body (MVB) is a specialized Rab7+ late endosome (LE) containing multiple intralumenal vesicles that function in targeting ubiquitinylated cell surface proteins to the lysosome for degradation. African trypanosomes lack a morphologically well-defined MVB, but contain orthologues of the ESCRT machinery that mediates MVB formation. We investigate the role of TbVps23, an early ESCRT component, and TbVps4, the terminal ESCRT ATPase, in lysosomal trafficking in bloodstream form trypanosomes. Both localize to the TbRab7+ LE and RNAi silencing of each rapidly blocks growth. TbVps4 silencing results in ~3-fold accumulation of TbVps23 at the LE, consistent with blocking terminal ESCRT disassembly. Trafficking of endocytic and biosynthetic cargo, but not default lysosomal reporters, is also negatively affected. Others reported that TbVps23 mediates ubiquitin-dependent lysosomal degradation of invariant surface glycoproteins (ISG65) (Traffic 2008, 9:1698). In contrast, we find that TbVps23 ablation does not affect ISG65 turnover, while TbVps4 silencing markedly enhances lysosomal degradation. We propose several models to accommodate these results, including that the ESCRT machinery actually retrieves ISG65 from the LE to earlier endocytic compartments, and in its absence ISG65 traffics more efficiently to the lysosome. Overall, these results confirm that the ESCRT machinery is essential in T. brucei and plays important and novel role(s) in LE function in trypanosomes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mature dolichol-linked oligosaccharides (mDLOs) needed for eukaryotic protein N-glycosylation are synthesized by a multistep pathway in which the biosynthetic lipid intermediate Man5GlcNAc2-PP-dolichol (M5-DLO) flips from the cytoplasmic to the luminal face of the endoplasmic reticulum. The endoplasmic reticulum
membrane protein Rft1 is intimately involved in mDLO biosynthesis. Yeast genetic analyses implicated Rft1 as the M5-DLO flippase,
but because biochemical tests challenged this assignment, the function of Rft1 remains obscure. To understand the role of
Rft1, we sought to analyze mDLO biosynthesis in vivo in the complete absence of the protein. Rft1 is essential for yeast viability, and no Rft1-null organisms are currently available.
Here, we exploited Trypanosoma brucei (Tb), an early diverging eukaryote whose Rft1 homologue functions in yeast. We report that TbRft1-null procyclic trypanosomes
grow nearly normally. They have normal steady-state levels of mDLO and significant N-glycosylation, indicating robust M5-DLO flippase activity. Remarkably, the mutant cells have 30–100-fold greater steady-state
levels of M5-DLO than wild-type cells. All N-glycans in the TbRft1-null cells originate from mDLO indicating that the M5-DLO excess is not available for glycosylation.
These results suggest that rather than facilitating M5-DLO flipping, Rft1 facilitates conversion of M5-DLO to mDLO by another
mechanism, possibly by acting as an M5-DLO chaperone.
Preview · Article · May 2013 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nucleotide sugar transporters (NSTs) are indispensible for the biosynthesis of glycoproteins by providing the nucleotide sugars needed for glycosylation in the lumen of the Golgi apparatus. Mutations in NST genes cause human and cattle diseases and impaired cell walls of yeast and fungi. Information regarding their function in the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, a causative agent of African trypanosomiasis, is unknown. Here, we characterized the substrate specificities of four NSTs, TbNST1-4, which are expressed in both the insect procyclic form (PCF) and the mammalian bloodstream form (BSF) stages. TbNST1/2 transport UDP-Gal/UDP-GlcNAc, TbNST3 transports GDP-Man, and TbNST4 transports UDP-GlcNAc, UDP-GalNAc and GDP-Man. TbNST4 is the first NST shown to transport both pyrimidine and purine nucleotide sugars and is demonstrated here to be localized at the Golgi apparatus. RNAi-mediated silencing of TbNST4 in PCF caused underglycosylated surface glycoprotein EP-procyclin. Similarly, defective glycosylation of the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG221) as well as the lysosomal membrane protein, p67 was observed in ΔTbNST4 BSF T. brucei. Relative infectivity analysis showed that defects in glycosylation of the surface coat resulting from TbNST4 deletion were insufficient to impact the ability of this parasite to infect mice. Notably, the fact that inactivation of a single NST gene results in measurable defects in surface glycoproteins in different life cycle stages of the parasite, highlights the essential role of NST(s) in glycosylation of T. brucei. Thus, results presented in this study provide a framework for conducting functional analyses of other NSTs identified in T. brucei.
No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma brucei protein disulfide isomerase 2 (TbPDI2) is a bloodstream stage-specific lumenal endoplasmic reticulum (ER) glycoprotein. ER
localization is dependent on the TbPDI2 C-terminal tetrapeptide (KQDL) and is mediated by TbERD2, an orthologue of the yeast
ER retrieval receptor. Consistent with this function, TbERD2 localizes prominently to ER exit sites, and RNA interference
(RNAi) knockdown results in specific secretion of a surrogate ER retention reporter, BiPN:KQDL. TbPDI2 is highly N-glycosylated
and is reactive with tomato lectin, suggesting the presence of poly-N-acetyllactosamine modifications, which are common on lyso/endosomal proteins in trypanosomes but are inconsistent with ER
localization. However, TbPDI2 is reactive with tomato lectin immediately following biosynthesis—far too rapidly for transport
to the Golgi compartment, the site of poly-N-acetyllactosamine addition. TbPDI2 also fails to react with Erythrina cristagalli lectin, confirming the absence of terminal N-acetyllactosamine units. We propose that tomato lectin binds the Manβ1-4GlcNAcβ1-4GlcNAc trisaccharide core of paucimannose
glycans on both newly synthesized and mature TbPDI2. Consistent with this proposal, α-mannosidase treatment renders oligomannose
N-glycans on the T. brucei cathepsin L orthologue TbCatL reactive with tomato lectin. These findings resolve contradictory evidence on the location
and glycobiology of TbPDI2 and provide a cautionary note on the use of tomato lectin as a poly-N-acetyllactosamine-specific reagent.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in secretory biology of African trypanosomes reveal both similarities and striking differences with other model eukaryotic organisms. Secretion is streamlined for rapid and selective transport of the major cargo, VSG. Selectivity in the early and post-Golgi compartments is dependent on glycosylphosphatidyl inositol anchors. Streamlining includes reduced organellar abundance, and close association of ER exit sites with Golgi and with unique flagellar cytoskeletal elements that govern organellar replication and segregation. These elements include a novel centrin containing bilobe structure. Innate signals for post-Golgi sorting of biosynthetic lysosomal cargo trafficking have been defined, as have pathways for both biosynthetic and endocytic trafficking to the lysosome. Less well-defined secretory organelles such as the multivesicular body and acidocalcisomes are receiving closer scrutiny.
No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Current opinion in microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biogenesis of the ER Exit Site/Golgi Junction (EGJ) in bloodstream-form African trypanosomes is investigated using tagged markers for ER Exit Sites, the Golgi and the bilobe structure. The typical pattern is two EGJ in G1 phase (1 kinetoplast/1 nucleus, 1K1N) through S-phase (2K1N), duplication to four EGJ in post-mitotic cells (2K2N) and segregation of two EGJ to each daughter. Lesser cell percentages have elevated EGJ copy numbers in all stages, and blocking cell cycle progression results in even higher copy numbers. EGJs are closely aligned with the flagellar attachment zone (FAZ) indicating nucleation on the FAZ-associated ER (FAZ:ER). Only the most posterior EGJ in each cell is in proximity to the bilobe, which is located at the base of the FAZ filament near the mouth of the flagellar pocket. These results indicate that EGJ replication in bloodstream trypanosomes is not tightly coupled to the cell cycle. Furthermore, segregation of EGJ is not obligately mediated by the bilobe, rather assembly of the EGJ on the FAZ:ER, which is coupled to the flagellar cytoskeleton, apparently ensures segregation with fidelity during cytokinesis. These findings differ markedly from procyclic-form trypanosomes, and models highlighting these stage-specific differences in EGJ biogenesis are proposed.
Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Molecular Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present the first functional analysis of the small GTPase, TbRab7, in Trypanosoma brucei. TbRab7 defines discrete late endosomes closely juxtaposed to the terminal p67(+) lysosome. RNAi indicates that TbRab7 is essential in bloodstream trypanosomes. Initial rates of endocytosis were unaffected, but lysosomal delivery of cargo, including tomato lectin (TL) and trypanolytic factor (TLF) were blocked. These accumulate in a dispersed internal compartment of elevated pH, likely derived from the late endosome. Surface binding of TL but not TLF was reduced, suggesting that cellular distribution of flagellar pocket receptors is differentially regulated by TbRab7. TLF activity was reduced approximately threefold confirming that lysosomal delivery is critical for trypanotoxicity. Unexpectedly, delivery of endogenous proteins, p67 and TbCatL, were unaffected indicating that TbRab7 does not regulate biosynthetic lysosomal trafficking. Thus, unlike mammalian cells and yeast, lysosomal trafficking of endocytosed and endogenous proteins occur via different routes and/or are regulated differentially. TbRab7 silencing had no effect on a cryptic default pathway to the lysosome, suggesting that the default lysosomal reporters p67ΔTM, p67ΔCD and VSGΔGPI do not utilize the endocytic pathway as previously proposed. Surprisingly, conditional knockout indicates that TbRab7 may be non-essential in procyclic insect form trypanosomes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The substrate selectivity of four Trypanosoma brucei sphingolipid synthases was examined. TbSLS1, an inositol phosphorylceramide (IPC) synthase, and TbSLS4, a bifunctional sphingomyelin (SM)/ethanolamine phosphorylceramide (EPC) synthase, were inactivated by Ala substitutions of a conserved triad of residues His210, His253, and Asp257 thought to form part of the active site. TbSLS4 also catalyzed the reverse reaction, production of ceramide from sphingomyelin, but none of the Ala substitutions of the catalytic triad in TbSLS4 were able to do so. Site-directed mutagenesis identified residues proximal to the conserved triad that were responsible for the discrimination between charge and size of the different head groups. For discrimination between anionic (phosphoinositol) and zwitterionic (phosphocholine, phosphoethanolamine) head groups, doubly mutated V172D/S252F TbSLS1 and D172V/F252S TbSLS3 showed reciprocal conversion between IPC and bifunctional SM/EPC synthases. For differentiation of zwitterionic headgroup size, N170A TbSLS1 and A170N/N187D TbSLS4 showed reciprocal conversion between EPC and bifunctional SM/EPC synthases. These studies provide a mapping of the SLS active site and demonstrate that differences in catalytic specificity of the T. brucei enzyme family are controlled by natural variations in as few as three residue positions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Trypanosoma brucei genome has four highly similar genes encoding sphingolipid synthases (TbSLS1-4). TbSLSs are polytopic membrane proteins that are essential for viability of the pathogenic bloodstream stage of this human protozoan parasite and, consequently, can be considered as potential drug targets. TbSLS4 was shown previously to be a bifunctional sphingomyelin/ethanolamine phosphorylceramide synthase, whereas functions of the others were not characterized. Using a recently described liposome-supplemented cell-free synthesis system, which eliminates complications from background cellular activities, we now unambiguously define the enzymatic specificity of the entire gene family. TbSLS1 produces inositol phosphorylceramide, TbSLS2 produces ethanolamine phosphorylceramide, and TbSLS3 is bifunctional, like TbSLS4. These findings indicate that TbSLS1 is uniquely responsible for synthesis of inositol phosphorylceramide in insect stage parasites, in agreement with published expression array data (17). This approach also revealed that the Trypanosoma cruzi ortholog (TcSLS1) is a dedicated inositol phosphorylceramide synthase. The cell-free synthesis system allowed rapid optimization of the reaction conditions for these enzymes and site-specific mutagenesis to alter end product specificity. A single residue at position 252 (TbSLS1, Ser(252); TbSLS3, Phe(252)) strongly influences enzymatic specificity. We also have used this system to demonstrate that aureobasidin A, a potent inhibitor of fungal inositol phosphorylceramide synthases, does not significantly affect any of the TbSLS activities, consistent with the phylogenetic distance of these two clades of sphingolipid synthases. These results represent the first application of cell-free synthesis for the rapid preparation and functional annotation of integral membrane proteins and thus illustrate its utility in studying otherwise intractable enzyme systems.
Full-text · Article · May 2010 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The surface of most protozoan parasites relies heavily upon lipid-anchored molecules, to form protective barriers and play critical functions required for infectivity. Sphingolipids (SLs) play important roles through their abundance and involvement in membrane microdomain formation, as well as serving as the lipid anchor for many of these molecules and in some but possibly not all species, as important signaling molecules. Interactions of parasite sphingolipid metabolism with that of the host may potentially contribute to parasite survival and/or host defense. In this chapter we summarize current knowledge of SL structure, synthesis and function in several of the major parasitic protozoan groups.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) of bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei (Tb) is a critical virulence factor. The VSG glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor strongly influences passage through the early secretory pathway. Using a dominant-negative mutation of TbSar1, we show that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) exit of secretory cargo in trypanosomes is dependent on the coat protein complex II (COPII) machinery. Trypanosomes have two orthologues each of the Sec23 and Sec24 COPII subunits, which form specific heterodimeric pairs: TbSec23.1/TbSec24.2 and TbSec23.2/TbSec24.1. RNA interference silencing of each subunit is lethal but has minimal effects on trafficking of soluble and transmembrane proteins. However, silencing of the TbSec23.2/TbSec24.1 pair selectively impairs ER exit of GPI-anchored cargo. All four subunits colocalize to one or two ER exit sites (ERES), in close alignment with the postnuclear flagellar adherence zone (FAZ), and closely juxtaposed to corresponding Golgi clusters. These ERES are nucleated on the FAZ-associated ER. The Golgi matrix protein Tb Golgi reassembly stacking protein defines a region between the ERES and Golgi, suggesting a possible structural role in the ERES:Golgi junction. Our results confirm a selective mechanism for GPI-anchored cargo loading into COPII vesicles and a remarkable degree of streamlining in the early secretory pathway. This unusual architecture probably maximizes efficiency of VSG transport and fidelity in organellar segregation during cytokinesis.
Preview · Article · Sep 2009 · Molecular biology of the cell
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: African trypanosomes are the causative agents of human trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). The pathogenic stage of the parasite has unique adaptations to life in the bloodstream of the mammalian host, including upregulation of endocytic and lysosomal activities. We investigated stage-specific requirements for cytoplasmic adaptor/clathrin machinery in post-Golgi apparatus biosynthetic sorting to the lysosome using RNA interference silencing of the Tbmu1 subunit of adaptor complex 1 (AP-1), in conjunction with immunolocalization, kinetic analyses of reporter transport, and quantitative endocytosis assays. Tbmu1 silencing was lethal in both stages, indicating a critical function(s) for the AP-1 machinery. Transport of soluble and membrane-bound secretory cargoes was Tbmu1 independent in both stages. In procyclic parasites, trafficking of the lysosomal membrane protein, p67, was disrupted, leading to cell surface mislocalization. The lysosomal protease trypanopain was also secreted, suggesting a transmembrane-sorting receptor for this soluble hydrolase. In bloodstream trypanosomes, both p67 and trypanopain trafficking were unaffected by Tbmu1 silencing, suggesting that AP-1 is not necessary for biosynthetic lysosomal trafficking. Endocytosis in bloodstream cells was also unaffected, indicating that AP-1 does not function at the flagellar pocket. These results indicate that post-Golgi apparatus sorting to the lysosome is critically dependent on the AP-1/clathrin machinery in procyclic trypanosomes but that this machinery is not necessary in bloodstream parasites. We propose a simple model for stage-specific default secretory trafficking in trypanosomes that is consistent with the behavior of other soluble and glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored cargos and which is influenced by upregulation of endocytosis in bloodstream parasites as an adaptation to life in the mammalian bloodstream.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Variable subregions within the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat displayed by African trypanosomes are predicted sites for T- and B-cell recognition. Hypervariable subregion 1 (HV-1) is localized to an internal amphipathic alpha helix in VSG monomers and may have evolved due to selective pressure by host T-cell responses to epitopes within this subregion. The prediction of T-cell receptor-reactive sites and major histocompatibility complex class II binding motifs within the HV-1 subregion, coupled with the conservation of amino acid residues in other regions of the molecule sufficient to maintain secondary and tertiary VSG structure, prompted us to test the hypothesis that Th cells may preferentially recognize HV-1 subregion peptides. Thus, we examined the fine specificity of VSG-specific T-cell lines, T-cell hybridomas, and Th cells activated during infection. Our results demonstrate that T-cell epitopes are distributed throughout the N-terminal domain of VSG but are not clustered exclusively within HV-1 or other hypervariable subregions. In contrast, T-cell-reactive sites were not detected within the relatively conserved C-terminal domain of VSG. Overall, this study is the first to dissect the fine specificity of T-cell responses to the trypanosome VSG and suggests that evolution of a conserved HV-1 region may be unrelated to selective pressures exerted by host T-cell responses. This study also demonstrates that T cells do not recognize the relatively invariant C-terminal region of the VSG molecule during infection, suggesting that it could serve as a potential subunit vaccine to provide variant cross-specific immunity for African trypanosomiasis.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Infection and immunity
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sphingolipids are essential components of eukaryotic membranes, and many unicellular eukaryotes, including kinetoplastid protozoa, are thought to synthesize exclusively inositol phosphorylceramide (IPC). Here we characterize sphingolipids from Trypanosoma brucei, and a trypanosome sphingolipid synthase gene family (TbSLS1-4) that is orthologous to Leishmania IPC synthase. Procyclic trypanosomes contain IPC, but also sphingomyelin, while surprisingly bloodstream-stage parasites contain sphingomyelin and ethanolamine phosphorylceramide (EPC), but no detectable IPC. In vivo fluorescent ceramide labelling confirmed stage-specific biosynthesis of both sphingomyelin and IPC. Expression of TbSLS4 in Leishmania resulted in production of sphingomyelin and EPC suggesting that the TbSLS gene family has bi-functional synthase activity. RNAi silencing of TbSLS1-4 in bloodstream trypanosomes led to rapid growth arrest and eventual cell death. Ceramide levels were increased more than threefold by silencing suggesting a toxic downstream effect mediated by this potent intracellular messenger. Topology predictions support a revised six-transmembrane domain model for the kinetoplastid sphingolipid synthases consistent with the proposed mammalian sphingomyelin synthase structure. This work reveals novel diversity and regulation in sphingolipid metabolism in this important group of human parasites.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lysosomal/endosomal system of African trypanosomes is developmentally regulated and is important in the pathogenesis associated with infection of the mammalian bloodstream. Long considered to be a target for drug development, the internal pH of the lysosome has been variously reported to range from <5.0 to >6.0. We have refined a flow cytometric technique using a pH-sensitive probe that specifically targets the lysosome, tomato lectin:Oregon Green 488 conjugate. The probe is delivered to the lysosome with fidelity, where it is shielded against external pH. Measurement of fluorescent output in the presence and absence of lysomotropic agent (NH(4)Cl) then allows precise titration of steady state lysosomal pH (4.84+/-0.23). Using bafilomycin A1 to inhibit acidification we demonstrate that this method is responsive to pharmacological perturbation of lysosomal physiology. This work should facilitate future studies of the lysosomal function in African trypanosomiasis, as well as other parasitic protozoa.
Preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNAi knockdown was employed to study the function of p67, a lysosome-associated membrane protein (LAMP)-like type I transmembrane lysosomal glycoprotein in African trypanosomes. Conditional induction of p67 dsRNA resulted in specific approximately 90% reductions in de novo p67 synthesis in both mammalian bloodstream and procyclic insect-stage parasites. Bloodstream cell growth was severely retarded with extensive death after > 24 h of induction. Biosynthetic trafficking of residual p67, and of the soluble lysosomal protease trypanopain, were unimpaired. Endocytosis of tomato lectin, a surrogate receptor-mediated cargo, was only mildly impaired (approximately 20%), but proper lysosomal targeting was unaffected. p67 ablation had dramatic effects on lysosomal morphology with gross enlargement (four- to fivefold) and internal membrane profiles reminiscent of autophagic vacuoles. Ablation of p67 expression rendered bloodstream trypanosomes refractory to lysis by human trypanolytic factor (TLF), a lysosomally activated host innate immune mediator. Similar effects on lysosomal morphology and TLF sensitivity were also obtained by two pharmacological agents that neutralize lysosomal pH--chloroquine and bafilomycin A1. Surprisingly, however, lysosomal pH was not affected in ablated cells suggesting that other physiological alterations must account for increased resistance to TLF. These results indicate p67 plays an essential role in maintenance of normal lysosomal structure and physiology in bloodstream-stage African trypanosomes.
Full-text · Article · May 2008 · Molecular Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Translational control mediated by phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2alpha) is central to stress-induced programs of gene expression. Trypanosomatids, important human pathogens, display differentiation processes elicited by contact with the distinct physiological milieu found in their insect vectors and mammalian hosts, likely representing stress situations. Trypanosoma brucei, the agent of African trypanosomiasis, encodes three potential eIF2alpha kinases (TbeIF2K1 to -K3). We show here that TbeIF2K2 is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed both in procyclic and in bloodstream forms. The catalytic domain of TbeIF2K2 phosphorylates yeast and mammalian eIF2alpha at Ser51. It also phosphorylates the highly unusual form of eIF2alpha found in trypanosomatids specifically at residue Thr169 that corresponds to Ser51 in other eukaryotes. T. brucei eIF2alpha, however, is not a substrate for GCN2 or PKR in vitro. The putative regulatory domain of TbeIF2K2 does not share any sequence similarity with known eIF2alpha kinases. In both procyclic and bloodstream forms TbeIF2K2 is mainly localized in the membrane of the flagellar pocket, an organelle that is the exclusive site of exo- and endocytosis in these parasites. It can also be detected in endocytic compartments but not in lysosomes, suggesting that it is recycled between endosomes and the flagellar pocket. TbeIF2K2 location suggests a relevance in sensing protein or nutrient transport in T. brucei, an organism that relies heavily on posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms to control gene expression in different environmental conditions. This is the first membrane-associated eIF2alpha kinase described in unicellular eukaryotes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: p67 is a lysosome-associated membrane protein-like lysosomal type I transmembrane glycoprotein in African trypanosomes. The p67 cytoplasmic domain (CD) is both necessary and sufficient for lysosomal targeting in procyclic insect-stage parasites. The p67CD contains two [DE]XXXL[LI]-type dileucine motifs, which function as lysosomal targeting signals in mammalian cells. Using a green fluorescent protein fusion to the p67 transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains as a reporter system, we investigated the role of these motifs in lysosomal targeting in procyclic trypanosomes. Pulse-chase turnover studies, steady-state immunolocalization and quantitative flow cytometry all gave consistent results. Mutagenesis of the membrane-distal dileucine motif impairs lysosomal trafficking leading to partial appearance of the reporter on the cell surface. Mutagenesis of the membrane-proximal motif has little effect on proper targeting. Simultaneous mutagenesis of both motifs results in quantitative delivery to the cell surface. Thus, the distal motif plays a dominant role, but both dileucine motifs are necessary for maximal lysosomal targeting. Additional studies suggest that the upstream acidic residues in each motif influence lysosomal targeting and may also affect forward trafficking in the early secretory pathway. These results strongly suggest an evolutionary conservation in lysosomal trafficking mechanisms in the ancient eukaryote Trypanosoma brucei.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: De novo sphingolipid synthesis is required for the exit of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored membrane proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum in yeast. Using a pharmacological approach, we test the generality of this phenomenon by analyzing the transport of GPI-anchored cargo in widely divergent eukaryotic systems represented by African trypanosomes and HeLa cells. Myriocin, which blocks the first step of sphingolipid synthesis (serine + palmitate --> 3-ketodihydrosphingosine), inhibited the growth of cultured bloodstream parasites, and growth was rescued with exogenous 3-ketodihydrosphingosine. Myriocin also blocked metabolic incorporation of [3H]serine into base-resistant sphingolipids. Biochemical analyses indicate that the radiolabeled lipids are not sphingomyelin or inositol phosphorylceramide, suggesting that bloodstream trypanosomes synthesize novel sphingolipids. Inhibition of de novo sphingolipid synthesis with myriocin had no adverse effect on either general secretory trafficking or GPI-dependent trafficking in trypanosomes, and similar results were obtained with HeLa cells. A mild effect on endocytosis was seen for bloodstream trypanosomes after prolonged incubation with myriocin. These results indicate that de novo synthesis of sphingolipids is not a general requirement for secretory trafficking in eukaryotic cells. However, in contrast to the closely related kinetoplastid Leishmania major, de novo sphingolipid synthesis is essential for the viability of bloodstream-stage African trypanosomes.