Impact of protozoan cell death on parasite-host interactions and pathogenesis
Unlike other eukaryotic cells, trypanosomes possess a compartmentalized glycolytic pathway. The conversion of glucose into 3-phosphoglycerate takes place in specialized peroxisomes, called glycosomes. Further conversion of this intermediate into pyruvate occurs in the cytosol. Due to this compartmentation, many regulatory mechanisms operating in other cell types cannot work in trypanosomes. This is reflected by the insensitivity of the glycosomal enzymes to compounds that act as activity regulators in other cell types. Several speculations have been raised about the function of compartmentation of glycolysis in trypanosomes. We calculate that even in a noncompartmentalized trypanosome the flux through glycolysis should not be limited by diffusion. Therefore, the sequestration of glycolytic enzymes in an organelle may not serve to overcome a diffusion limitation. We also search the available data for a possible relation between compartmentation and the distribution of control of the glycolytic flux among the glycolytic enzymes. Under physiological conditions, the rate of glycolytic ATP production in the bloodstream form of the parasite is possibly controlled by the oxygen tension, but not by the glucose concentration. Within the framework of Metabolic Control Analysis, we discuss evidence that glucose transport, although it does not qualify as the sole rate-limiting step, does have a high flux control coefficient. This, however, does not distinguish trypanosomes from other eukaryotic cell types without glycosomes.