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Translocation of solutes and proteins across the glycosomal membrane of trypanosomes; possibilities and limitations for targeting with trypanocidal drugs

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Glycosomes are specialized peroxisomes found in all kinetoplastid organisms. The organelles are unique in harbouring most enzymes of the glycolytic pathway. Matrix proteins, synthesized in the cytosol, cofactors and metabolites have to be transported across the membrane. Recent research on Trypanosoma brucei has provided insight into how these translocations across the membrane occur, although many details remain to be elucidated. Proteins are imported by a cascade of reactions performed by specialized proteins, called peroxins, in which a cytosolic receptor with bound matrix protein inserts itself in the membrane to deliver its cargo into the organelle and is subsequently retrieved from the glycosome to perform further rounds of import. Bulky solutes, such as cofactors and acyl-CoAs, seem to be translocated by specific transporter molecules, whereas smaller solutes such as glycolytic intermediates probably cross the membrane through pore-forming channels. The presence of such channels is in apparent contradiction with previous results that suggested a low permeability of the glycosomal membrane. We propose 3 possible, not mutually exclusive, solutions for this paradox. Glycosomal glycolytic enzymes have been validated as drug targets against trypanosomatid-borne diseases. We discuss the possible implications of the new data for the design of drugs to be delivered into glycosomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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