Abstract by Zachary Hamilton
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Endocytosis as an alternative glucose uptake mechanism in Trypanosoma brucei
Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly in more than 35 rural African countries. Trypanosomes are single-celled organisms that rely solely on glycolysis for energy production once in the host’s bloodstream; thus, understanding glucose uptake mechanisms in bloodstream form (BSF) T. brucei is a promising target for drug development to treat HAT. While it is known that trypanosomes use Trypanosome Hexose Transporters (THTs) to passively transport glucose across their cell membrane, it is not known whether this is the only mechanism of glucose uptake. Our lab has obtained evidence that an alternate ATP-dependent glucose uptake mechanism may occur in BSF T. brucei. Using 2-NBDG (a fluorescent glucose analog) and fructose and glucose as competitive THT inhibitors, we observed a minimal decrease in 2-NBDG uptake. In contrast, cold incubation greatly decreased 2-NBDG uptake, suggesting an active glucose transport mechanism such as endocytosis.