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Nutrient Transporters in Trypanosomes

Transporters are increasingly being recognized as key players in cell physiology and determinants of drug susceptibility. This is particularly the case for parasites, which by definition rely on import of nutrients from their hosts. In a Sinergia project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) on functional genomics of nutrient transporters in Trypanosoma brucei, we are investigating four selected groups of nutrient transporters: ion channels, amino acid transporters, ABC transporters, and transporters of lipid precursors. Substrate specificities and transport kinetics are being determined by expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (in the laboratory of D. Rentsch, University of Bern) and Xenopus laevis oocytes (in the laboratory of E. Sigel, University of Bern), while the physiological role is studied by reverse genetics in T. brucei parasites grown in culture and in animal models (in the laboratories of P. Maeser, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, and P. Bütikofer, University of Bern). By investigating transporters in an interdisciplinary way, we are validating them as drug targets or drug delivery systems.

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