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Characterisation of a mitochondrial iron transporter of the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei

Zheng, Fuli; Colasante, Claudia; Voncken, Frank


Fuli Zheng

Claudia Colasante

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Dr Frank Voncken
Lecturer in Medical Microbiology, and Biomedical and Forensic Sciences. Biosafety Practitioner and Advisor.


Similar to higher eukaryotes, the protist parasite T. brucei harbours several iron-containing proteins that regulate DNA and protein processing, oxidative stress defence and mitochondrial respiration. The synthesis of these proteins occurs either in the cytoplasm or within the mitochondrion. For mitochondrial iron cluster protein synthesis, iron needs to be transported across the solute impermeable mitochondrial membrane. In T. brucei we previously identified 24 mitochondrial carrier proteins (TbMCPs) sharing conserved structural and functional features with those from higher eukaryotes. One of these carriers (TbMCP17) displayed high similarity with the iron carriers MRS3, MRS4 from yeast and mitoferrin from mammals, insects and plants. In the present study we demonstrated that TbMCP17 functions as an iron carrier by complementation studies using MRS3/4-deficient yeast. Depletion of TbMCP17 in procyclic form T. brucei resulted in growth deficiency, increased sensitivity to iron deprivation, and lowered mitochondrial iron content. Taken together our results suggest that TbMCP17 functions as a mitochondrial iron transporter in the parasite T. brucei.


Zheng, F., Colasante, C., & Voncken, F. (2019). Characterisation of a mitochondrial iron transporter of the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 233, Article 111221.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 13, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 19, 2019
Publication Date 2019-10
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 20, 2020
Journal Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Print ISSN 0166-6851
Electronic ISSN 1872-9428
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 233
Article Number 111221
Keywords Mitochondrial transport; Iron metabolism; Trypanosoma brucei; Mitochondrial carrier family-proteins
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Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Characterisation of a mitochondrial iron transporter of the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei; Journal Title: Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contract Date Oct 28, 2019


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