A nuclear enterprise: Zooming in on nuclear organization and gene expression control in the African trypanosome

Joana R. C. Faria (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


African trypanosomes are early divergent protozoan parasites responsible for high mortality and morbidity as well as a great economic burden among the world's poorest populations. Trypanosomes undergo antigenic variation in their mammalian hosts, a highly sophisticated immune evasion mechanism. Their nuclear organization and mechanisms for gene expression control present several conventional features but also a number of striking differences to the mammalian counterparts. Some of these unorthodox characteristics, such as lack of controlled transcription initiation or enhancer sequences, render their monogenic antigen transcription, which is critical for successful antigenic variation, even more enigmatic. Recent technological developments have advanced our understanding of nuclear organization and gene expression control in trypanosomes, opening novel research avenues. This review is focused on Trypanosoma brucei nuclear organization and how it impacts gene expression, with an emphasis on antigen expression. It highlights several dedicated sub-nuclear bodies that compartmentalize specific functions, whilst outlining similarities and differences to more complex eukaryotes. Notably, understanding the mechanisms underpinning antigen as well as general gene expression control is of great importance, as it might help designing effective control strategies against these organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1253
Number of pages17
Issue number10
Early online date7 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • antigenic variation
  • gene expression
  • genome architecture
  • nuclear bodies
  • RNA processing
  • transcription factories
  • Trypanosoma brucei
  • Trypanosomatids
  • VSG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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