AMP-activated protein kinase: A key enzyme to manage nutritional stress responses in parasites with complex life cycles

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
T. SternliebGuillermo Daniel Alonso


Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease, has a digenetic life cycle. In its passage from the insect vector to the mammalian host, and vice versa, it must be prepared to cope with abrupt changes in environmental conditions in order to survive. Sensing and signaling pathways that allow the parasite to adapt, have unique characteristics with respect to their hosts and other free-living organisms. Many of the canonical proteins involved in these transduction pathways have not yet been found in the genomes of these parasites, because they present divergences either at the functional, structural and/or protein sequence level. All of this makes these pathways promising targets for therapeutic drugs. The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a serine/threonine kinase activated by environmental stresses that results in reduction of ATP and increase of AMP levels. Thus, AMPK is regarded as a fuel gauge, functioning both as a nutrient and an energy sensor, to maintain energy homeostasis and, eventually, to protect cells from death by nutrient starvation. In the present study, we report the characterization of AMPK complexes for the first time in T. cruzi and describe the function of TcAMPK as a novel regulator of nutri...Continue Reading

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