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The life cycle of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei, is characterised by a transition between insect and mammalian hosts representing very different environments that present the parasite with very different challenges. These challenges are met by the expression of life-cycle stage-specific cohorts of proteins, which function in systems such as metabolism and immune evasion. These life-cycle transitions are also accompanied by morphological rearrangements orchestrated by microtubule dynamics and associated proteins of the subpellicular microtubule array. Here we employed a gel-based comparative proteomic technique, Difference Gel Electrophoresis, to identify cytoskeletal proteins that are expressed differentially in mammalian infective and insect form trypanosomes. From this analysis we identified a pair of novel, paralogous proteins, one of which is expressed in the procyclic form and the other in the bloodstream form. We show that these proteins, CAP51 and CAP51V, localise to the subpellicular corset of microtubules and are essential for correct organisation of the cytoskeleton and successful cytokinesis in their respective life cycle stages. We demonstrate for the first time redundancy of function between life-cycle stage specific paralogous sets in the cytoskeleton and reveal modification of cytoskeletal components in situ prior to their removal during differentiation from the bloodstream form to the insect form. These specific results emphasise a more generic concept that the trypanosome genome encodes a cohort of cytoskeletal components that are present in at least two forms with life-cycle stage-specific expression.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Animals, Cytokinesis, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Insecta, Life Cycle Stages, Microtubules, Proteomics, Protozoan Proteins, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Trypanosoma brucei brucei