Endocytosed transferrin in African trypanosomes is delivered to lysosomes and may not be recycled

D. J. Grab, C. W. Wells, M. K. Shaw, P. Webster, D. C W Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


It has been shown in mammalian systems that the passage of transferrin-colloidal gold (Tf-Au) through the endocytic system is influenced by the size of the gold colloid (Neutra, M. R. et al., J. Histochem. Cytochem. 33,1134-1144 (1985); Woods, J. W. et al., Eur. J. Cell Biol. 50,132-143 (1989)). However, in both Trypanosoma brucei brucei and Trypanosoma congolense, widely varying sizes of Tf-Au (Tf-Au5 and Tf-Au15) have been shown to proceed to lysosomes (Webster, P., Eur. J. Cell Biol. 49, 295-302 (1989); Webster, P., D. Grab, J. Cell Biol. 106, 279-288 (1988)). Using an affinity-purified anti-bovine transferrin IgG we have demonstrated that, in both T. brucei and T. congolense, native transferrin, like Tf-Au, is found in the flagellar pocket, coated vesicles, tubular structures, and lysosome-like organelles where it appears to be concentrated. The presence of Tf in the lysosomes was confirmed in colocalization experiments using T. congolense, where native bovine transferrin colocalized with a trypanosome lysosomal marker, a cysteine protease. The data suggest that, unlike the situation in mammalian cells where most transferrin is recycled to the cell surface, in African trypanosomes transferrin is routed into lysosomes and may not, therefore, be recycled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-404
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Endocytosis
  • Lysosomes
  • Recycling
  • Transferrin
  • Trypanosomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy


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