Regulation and function of polyamines in African trypanosomes

Erin Willert, Margaret A. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The polyamine biosynthetic pathway is an important drug target for the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), raising interest in understanding polyamine function and their mechanism of regulation. Polyamine levels are tightly controlled in mammalian cells, but similar regulatory mechanisms appear absent in trypanosomes. Instead trypanosomatid S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (AdoMetDC), which catalyzes a key step in the biosynthesis of the polyamine spermidine, is activated by dimerization with an inducible protein termed prozyme. Prozyme is an inactive paralog of the active AdoMetDC enzyme that evolved by gene duplication and is found only in the trypanosomatids. In Trypanosoma brucei, AdoMetDC activity appears to be controlled by regulation of prozyme protein levels, potentially at the translational level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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