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Eur J Biochem. 1993 Aug 15;216(1):75-80.

Non-cytochrome mediated mitochondrial ATP production in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei brucei.

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Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, New York 10016.


The life cycle of Trypanosoma brucei brucei involves a series of differentiation steps characterized by marked changes in mitochondrial development and function. The bloodstream forms of this parasite completely lack cytochromes and have not been considered to have any Krebs cycle function. It has been suggested that glycolysis is the sole source of ATP in all bloodstream forms. However, earlier results indicated that in the mitochondria of the transitional intermediate/short stumpy bloodstream forms, the biochemical pathways are present that could allow intra-mitochondrial production of ATP. Using a high mannitol buffer to enhance permeability, we confirm previous observations showing that transitional forms maintain motility and respiratory activity with 2-oxoglutarate as the sole substrate. Using a luminometer to measure intracellular ATP levels via the luciferin/luciferase chemiluminescence assay, we show that these same transitional forms, but not long slender forms, maintain high levels of intracellular ATP in the presence of 2-oxoglutarate. Further, in the presence of bongkrekic acid, an inhibitor of the mitochondrial adenine nucleotide translocase, ATP levels are reduced with subsequent death and lysis of the cells when 2-oxoglutarate, but not glucose, is used as sole substrate. These data are direct evidence of ATP production by transitional bloodstream form mitochondria.

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