American Society for Biology
The African trypanosome has evolved mechanisms to adapt to changes in nutrient availability that occur during its life cycle. During transition from mammalian blood to insect vector gut, parasites experience a rapid reduction in environmental glucose. Here we describe how pleomorphic parasites respond to glucose depletion with a focus on parasite changes in energy metabolism and growth. Long slender bloodstream form parasites were rapidly killed as glucose concentrations fell, while short stumpy bloodstream form parasites persisted to differentiate into the insect-stage procyclic form parasite. The rate of differentiation was lower than that triggered by other cues but reached physiological rates when combined with cold shock. Both differentiation and growth of resulting procyclic form parasites were inhibited by glucose and nonmetabolizable glucose analogs, and these parasites were found to have upregulated amino acid metabolic pathway component gene expression. In summary, glucose transitions from the primary metabolite of the blood-stage infection to a negative regulator of cell development and growth in the insect vector, suggesting that the hexose is not only a key metabolic agent but also an important signaling molecule.
Please use the publisher's recommended citation. https://msphere.asm.org/content/3/5/e00366-18