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A Mitogen-activated protein kinase controls differentiation of bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei.

ABSTRACT: African trypanosomes undergo differentiation in order to adapt to the mammalian host and the tsetse fly vector. To characterize the role of a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase homologue, TbMAPK5, in the differentiation of Trypanosoma brucei, we constructed a knockout in procyclic (insect) forms from a differentiation-competent (pleomorphic) stock. Two independent knockout clones proliferated normally in culture and were not essential for other life cycle stages in the fly. They were also able to infect immunosuppressed mice, but the peak parasitemia was 16-fold lower than that of the wild type. Differentiation of the proliferating long slender to the nonproliferating short stumpy bloodstream form is triggered by an autocrine factor, stumpy induction factor (SIF). The knockout differentiated prematurely in mice and in culture, suggestive of increased sensitivity to SIF. In contrast, a null mutant of a cell line refractory to SIF was able to proliferate normally. The differentiation phenotype was partially rescued by complementation with wild-type TbMAPK5 but exacerbated by introduction of a nonactivatable mutant form. Our results indicate a regulatory function for TbMAPK5 in the differentiation of bloodstream forms of T. brucei that might be exploitable as a target for chemotherapy against human sleeping sickness.

SUBMITTER: Domenicali Pfister D 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC1489280 | BioStudies | 2006-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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