Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: The three sub-species of Trypanosoma brucei are important pathogens of sub-Saharan Africa. T. b. brucei is unable to infect humans due to sensitivity to trypanosome lytic factors (TLF) 1 and 2 found in human serum. T. b. rhodesiense and T. b. gambiense are able to resist lysis by TLF. There are two distinct sub-groups of T. b. gambiense that differ genetically and by human serum resistance phenotypes. Group 1 T. b. gambiense have an invariant phenotype whereas group 2 show variable resistance. Previous data indicated that group 1 T. b. gambiense are resistant to TLF-1 due in-part to reduced uptake of TLF-1 mediated by reduced expression of the TLF-1 receptor (the haptoglobin-hemoglobin receptor (HpHbR)) gene. Here we investigate if this is also true in group 2 parasites.

Methodology: Isogenic resistant and sensitive group 2 T. b. gambiense were derived and compared to other T. brucei parasites. Both resistant and sensitive lines express the HpHbR gene at similar levels and internalized fluorescently labeled TLF-1 similar fashion to T. b. brucei. Both resistant and sensitive group 2, as well as group 1 T. b. gambiense, internalize recombinant APOL1, but only sensitive group 2 parasites are lysed.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that, despite group 1 T. b. gambiense avoiding TLF-1, it is resistant to the main lytic component, APOL1. Similarly group 2 T. b. gambiense is innately resistant to APOL1, which could be based on the same mechanism. However, group 2 T. b. gambiense variably displays this phenotype and expression does not appear to correlate with a change in expression site or expression of HpHbR. Thus there are differences in the mechanism of human serum resistance between T. b. gambiense groups 1 and 2.


This article was originally published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, available at DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001287.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.