Trypanosoma brucei: a survey of pyrimidine transport activities

Exp Parasitol. 2006 Oct;114(2):118-25. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2006.02.018. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


Purine uptake has been studied in many protozoan parasites in the last few years, and several of the purine transporters have been cloned. In contrast, very little is known about the salvage of preformed pyrimidines by protozoa, and no pyrimidine transporters have been cloned, yet chemotherapy based on pyrimidine nucleobases and nucleosides has been as effective as purine antimetabolites in the treatment of infectious and neoplastic disease. Here, we surveyed the presence of pyrimidine transporters in Trypanosoma brucei brucei. We could not detect any mediated uptake of thymine, thymidine or cytidine, but identified a very high-affinity transporter for cytosine, designated C1, with a K(m) value of 0.048+/-0.009 microM. We also confirmed the presence of the previously reported U1 uracil transporter and found it capable of mediating uridine uptake as well, with a K(m) of 33+/-5 microM. A higher-affinity U2 uridine transporter (K(m)=4.1+/-2.1 microM) was also identified, but efficiency of the C1 and U2-mediated transport was low. Pyrimidine antimetabolites were tested as potential trypanocidal agents and only 5-fluorouracil was found to be effective. This drug was efficiently taken up by bloodstream forms of T. b. brucei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites / metabolism
  • Antimetabolites / pharmacology
  • Biological Transport
  • Cytidine / metabolism
  • Cytosine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / metabolism
  • Fluorouracil / pharmacology
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests
  • Pyrimidines / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thymidine / metabolism
  • Thymine / metabolism
  • Trypanocidal Agents / metabolism
  • Trypanocidal Agents / pharmacology
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / drug effects
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / metabolism*
  • Uridine / metabolism


  • Antimetabolites
  • Pyrimidines
  • Trypanocidal Agents
  • Cytidine
  • Cytosine
  • Thymine
  • Fluorouracil
  • Thymidine
  • Uridine