Energy generation in insect stages of Trypanosoma brucei: metabolism in flux

Trends Parasitol. 2005 Apr;21(4):185-91. doi: 10.1016/


The generation of energy in African trypanosomes is a subject of undoubted importance. In bloodstream-form organisms, substrate-level phosphorylation of glucose is sufficient to provide the energy needs of the parasite. The situation in procyclic-form trypanosomes is more complex. For many years, it was accepted that glucose metabolism followed a conventional scheme involving glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and ATP-producing oxidative phosphorylation linked to the electron-transport chain. However, progress in sequencing the Trypanosoma brucei genome and the development of gene-knockout and RNA interference technology has provided novel insight. Coupling these new technologies with classical approaches, including NMR and mass spectrometry to analyse glycolytic intermediates and end products, has yielded several surprises. In this article, we summarize how these recent data have helped to change the view of metabolism in procyclic-form T. brucei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Citric Acid Cycle / physiology
  • Electron Transport / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphorylation
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / metabolism*