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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2007 Jan-Feb;54(1):18-21.

African trypanosomes: intracellular trafficking of host defense molecules.

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Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


Trypanosoma brucei brucei is the causative agent of Nagana in cattle and can infect a wide range of mammals but is unable to infect humans because it is susceptible to the innate cytotoxic activity of normal human serum. A minor subfraction of human high-density lipoprotein (HDL), containing apolipoprotein A-I (APOA1), apolipoprotein L-I (APOL1) and haptoglobin-related protein (HPR) provides this innate protection against T. b. brucei infection. Both HPR and APOL1 are cytotoxic to T. b. brucei but their specific activities for killing increase several hundred-fold when assembled in the same HDL. This HDL is called trypanosome lytic factor (TLF) and kills T. b. brucei following receptor binding, endocytosis, and lysosomal localization. Trypanosome lytic factor is activated in the acidic lysosome and facilitates lysosomal membrane disruption. Lysosomal localization is necessary for T. b. brucei killing by TLF. Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, which is indistinguishable from T. b. brucei, is resistant to TLF killing and causes human African sleeping sickness. Human infectivity by T. b. rhodesiense correlates with the evolution of a human serum resistance associated protein (SRA) that is able to ablate TLF killing. When T. b. brucei is transfected with the SRA gene it becomes highly resistant to TLF and human serum. In the SRA transfected cells, intracellular trafficking of TLF is altered and TLF mainly localizes to a subset of SRA containing cytoplasmic vesicles but not to the lysosome. These findings indicate that the cellular distribution of TLF is influenced by SRA expression and may directly determine susceptibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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