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Trypanosoma brucei: a model micro-organism to study eukaryotic phospholipid biosynthesis.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2011
Author Serricchio Mauro, Bütikofer Peter,
Project Functional genomics of nutrient transporters in Trypanosoma brucei: From physiology to pharmacology
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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The FEBS journal
Volume (Issue) 278(7)
Page(s) 1035 - 46
Title of proceedings The FEBS journal
DOI 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2011.08012.x


Although the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, can acquire lipids from its environment, recent reports have shown that it is also capable of de novo synthesis of all major phospholipids. Here we provide an overview of the biosynthetic pathways involved in phospholipid formation in T. brucei and highlight differences to corresponding pathways in other eukaryotes, with the aim of promoting trypanosomes as an attractive model organism to study lipid biosynthesis. We show that de novo synthesis of phosphatidylethanolamine involving CDP-activated intermediates is essential in T. brucei and that a reduction in its cellular content affects mitochondrial morphology and ultrastructure. In addition, we highlight that reduced levels of phosphatidylcholine inhibit nuclear division, suggesting a role for phosphatidylcholine formation in the control of cell division. Furthermore, we discuss possible routes leading to phosphatidylserine and cardiolipin formation in T. brucei and review the biosynthesis of phosphatidylinositol, which seems to take place in two separate compartments. Finally, we emphasize that T. brucei represents the only eukaryote so far that synthesizes all three sphingophospholipid classes, sphingomyelin, inositolphosphorylceramide and ethanolaminephosphorylceramide, and that their production is developmentally regulated.