The bloodstream form of Trypanosoma brucei displays non-canonical gluconeogenesis

Kovářová, Julie; Moos, Martin; Barrett, Michael P.; Horn, David; Zíková, Alena.

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 18(2): e0012007


Trypanosoma brucei is a causative agent of the Human and Animal African Trypanosomiases. The mammalian stage parasites infect various tissues and organs including the bloodstream, central nervous system, skin, adipose tissue and lungs. They rely on ATP produced in glycolysis, consuming large amounts of glucose, which is readily available in the mammalian host. In addition to glucose, glycerol can also be used as a source of carbon and ATP and as a substrate for gluconeogenesis. However, the physiological relevance of glycerol-fed gluconeogenesis for the mammalian-infective life cycle forms remains elusive. To demonstrate its (in)dispensability, first we must identify the enzyme(s) of the pathway. Loss of the canonical gluconeogenic enzyme, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase, does not abolish the process hence at least one other enzyme must participate in gluconeogenesis in trypanosomes. Using a combination of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and RNA interference, we generated mutants for four enzymes potentially capable of contributing to gluconeogenesis: fructose-1,6-bisphoshatase, sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphatase, phosphofructokinase and transaldolase, alone or in various combinations. Metabolomic analyses revealed that flux through gluconeogenesis was maintained irrespective of which of these genes were lost. Our data render unlikely a previously hypothesised role of a reverse phosphofructokinase reaction in gluconeogenesis and preclude the participation of a novel biochemical pathway involving transaldolase in the process. The sustained metabolic flux in gluconeogenesis in our mutants, including a triple-null strain, indicates the presence of a unique enzyme participating in gluconeogenesis. Additionally, the data provide new insights into gluconeogenesis and the pentose phosphate pathway, and improve the current understanding of carbon metabolism of the mammalian-infective stages of T. brucei.

Copyright: © 2024 Kovářová et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.