Surface receptors and transporters of Trypanosoma brucei

P. Borst, A. H. Fairlamb

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    91 Citations (Scopus)


    African trypanosomes combine antigenic variation of their surface coat with the ability to take up nutrients from their mammalian hosts. Uptake of small molecules such as glucose or nucleosides is mediated by translocators hidden from host antibodies by the surface coat. The multiple glucose transporters and transporters for nucleobases and nucleosides have been characterized. Receptors for host macromolecules such as transferrin and lipoproteins are visible to antibodies but hidden from the cellular arm of the host immune system in an invagination of the trypanosome surface, the flagellar pocket. The trypanosomal transferrin receptor is a heterodimer that resembles the major component of the surface coat of Trypanosoma brucei. The ability to make several versions of this receptor allows T. brucei to bind transferrins from a range of mammals with high affinity. The proteins required for uptake of nutrients by trypanosomes provide a target for chemotherapy that remains to be fully exploited.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)745-778
    Number of pages34
    JournalAnnual Review of Microbiology
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


    • Adenylate/guanylate cyclase
    • Antigenic variation
    • Flagellar pocket
    • Glucose transporter
    • Transferrin receptors

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Microbiology


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