Analysis of trypanosomal endocytic organelles using preparative free- flow electrophoresis

Dennis J. Grab, Paul Webster, John D. Lonsdale-Eccles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this paper we demonstrate the power of preparative free-flow electrophoresis (FFE) for the study of endocytosis by African trypanosomes. Endocytosis of extracellular macromolecules by these parasites occurs through a specialized region of the parasite called the flagella pocket. The uptake of fluid phase markers such as horseradish peroxidase (HRP) into the various compartments of the endocytic pathway of bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei brucei was manipulated by regulating the external environment (e.g., by altering the temperature of incubation). The various subcellular compartments were then separated by free-flow electrophoresis (FFE) or isopycnic density gradient centrifugation and analyzed for marker uptake. At low temperatures, HRP was found predominantly in the flagellar pocket. Increasing the temperature resulted in a time-dependent uptake of HRP into more positively charged endosomal fractions. However, little HRP activity was detected in lysosomal compartments, suggesting that either HRP had not yet entered the lysosome or was degraded immediately upon entry. Through the use of FFE we were able to identify and analyze compartments of the endosomal pathway that were not possible to identify by density gradient centrifugation alone. Although the differences in FFE separation of the endocytic compartments as seen in HRP uptake were striking, the minor changes seen within the lysosomal system were more subtle, as depicted in the protease profiles. In conlusion, we show that preparative FFE is a powerful technique for the analysis and separation of flagellar pocket-derived membranes from other endosomal and lysosomal compartments of African trypanosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1170
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Endosomes
  • Free-flow electrophoresis
  • Lysosomes
  • Percoll
  • Transferrin
  • Trypanosoma brucei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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