Pseudokinase NRP1 facilitates endocytosis of transferrin in the African trypanosome

Trypanosoma brucei causes human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) and nagana in cattle. During infection of a vertebrate, endocytosis of host transferrin (Tf) is important for viability of the parasite. The majority of proteins involved in trypanosome endocytosis of Tf are unknown. Here we identify pseudokinase NRP1 (Tb427tmp.160.4770) as a regulator of Tf endocytosis. Genetic knockdown of NRP1 inhibited endocytosis of Tf without blocking uptake of bovine serum albumin. Binding of Tf to the flagellar pocket was not affected by knockdown of NRP1. However the quantity of Tf per endosome dropped significantly, consistent with NRP1 promoting robust capture and/or retention of Tf in vesicles. NRP1 is involved in motility of Tf-laden vesicles since distances between endosomes and the kinetoplast were reduced after knockdown of the gene. In search of possible mediators of NRP1 modulation of Tf endocytosis, the gene was knocked down and the phosphoproteome analyzed. Phosphorylation of protein kinases forkhead, NEK6, and MAPK10 was altered, in addition to EpsinR, synaptobrevin and other vesicle-associated proteins predicted to be involved in endocytosis. These candidate proteins may link NRP1 functionally either to protein kinases or to vesicle-associated proteins.

Gaurav Kumar, Bryanna Thomas, Kojo Mensa-Wilmot. Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 3;12(1):18572. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22054-x.