Expression of alternative oxidase inhibits programmed cell death-like phenomenon in bloodstream form of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense

Parasitol Int. 2005 Dec;54(4):243-51. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2005.06.007.


Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense is one of the causative agents of African Trypanosomiasis. Programmed cell death (PCD) is fundamental in the development, homeostasis and immune mechanisms of multicellular organisms. It has been shown that, other than occurring in multicellular organisms, the PCD phenomenon also takes place in unicellular organisms. In the present study, we have found that under high-density axenic culture conditions, bloodstream form of T. b. rhodesiense depicts a PCD-like phenomenon. We investigated the association of the PCD-like phenomenon with expression of trypanosome alternative oxidase (TAO) under low-temperature stress conditions. We observed that bloodstream form of T. b. rhodesiense did not show any PCD but had up-regulated expression of TAO. Inhibition of TAO by the addition of ascofranone caused the development of PCD in bloodstream T. b. rhodesiense under low-temperature stress, implying that expression of TAO may contribute to the inhibition of PCD.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blood / parasitology
  • Culture Media
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Oxidoreductases / pharmacology
  • Plant Proteins
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology
  • Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense / enzymology
  • Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense / growth & development
  • Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense / physiology*
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / parasitology


  • Culture Media
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Oxidoreductases
  • alternative oxidase
  • ascofuranone