Biogenesis, maintenance and dynamics of glycosomes in trypanosomatid parasites

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 May;1863(5):1038-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2015.09.015. Epub 2015 Sep 16.


Peroxisomes of organisms belonging to the protist group Kinetoplastea, which include trypanosomatid parasites of the genera Trypanosoma and Leishmania, are unique in playing a crucial role in glycolysis and other parts of intermediary metabolism. They sequester the majority of the glycolytic enzymes and hence are called glycosomes. Their glycosomal enzyme content can vary strongly, particularly quantitatively, between different trypanosomatid species, and within each species during its life cycle. Turnover of glycosomes by autophagy of redundant ones and biogenesis of a new population of organelles play a pivotal role in the efficient adaptation of the glycosomal metabolic repertoire to the sudden, major nutritional changes encountered during the transitions in their life cycle. The overall mechanism of glycosome biogenesis is similar to that of peroxisomes in other organisms, but the homologous peroxins involved display low sequence conservation as well as variations in motifs mediating crucial protein-protein interactions in the process. The correct compartmentalisation of enzymes is essential for the regulation of the trypanosomatids' metabolism and consequently for their viability. For Trypanosoma brucei it was shown that glycosomes also play a crucial role in its life-cycle regulation: a crucial developmental control switch involves the translocation of a protein phosphatase from the cytosol into the organelles. Many glycosomal proteins are differentially phosphorylated in different life-cycle stages, possibly indicative of regulation of enzyme activities as an additional means to adapt the metabolic network to the different environmental conditions encountered.

Keywords: Biogenesis; Glycolysis; Glycosomes; Life-cycle differentiation; Trypanosomatid parasites; Turnover.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycolysis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leishmania / genetics
  • Leishmania / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microbodies / chemistry
  • Microbodies / metabolism*
  • Organelle Biogenesis*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Trypanosoma / genetics
  • Trypanosoma / metabolism*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • PEX14 protein, Leishmania donovani
  • PEX14 protein, Trypanosoma brucei
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases