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Scholars Day: April 10, 2013

TbLpn and phospholipid biosynthesis in Trypanosoma brucei

African sleeping sickness is a vector-borne devastating disease caused by the parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma brucei. Sleeping sickness threatens over 60 million people in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Over 70,000 deaths every year are a result of sleeping sickness and the disease is always fatal unless treated. Of great importance is the fact that, as opposed to other parasitic organisms, trypanosomes synthesize phospholipids de novo. This makes the trypanosome phospholipids biosynthesis machinery a very attractive target for new drug design. We recently identified TbLpn, a protein homologous to yeast and human lipin, a phosphatidate phosphatase involved in membrane biogenesis, energy metabolism, and adipose tissue development. In yeast and mammals, lipin catalyzes the dephosphorylation of phosphatidic acid (PA) to diacylglycerol (DAG) which, in turn, is used for the synthesis of phospholipids. We have recently shown that, as predicted by the presence of conserved domains, TbLpn displays phosphatidic acid phosphatase activity in vitro, and that the two conserved aspartic acid residues present in the C-LIP domain, are essential for enzymatic activity. This presentation will describe the significance of studying phospholipid biosynthesis in trypanosomes, as well as cover the different projects underway in our laboratory.

Presenter: Nicole Muehleisen (Graduate Student)
Topic: Biology
Location: 101 Edwards
Time: 9:45 am (Session I)
Please note that presentation times are approximate. If you are interested in attending sessions with multiple presentations, please be in the room at the start of the session.