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A new family of cell surface located purine transporters in Microsporidia and related fungal endoparasites

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter Major, Dr Kacper Sendra, Dr Paul Dean, Dr Tom Williams, Andrew Watson, Professor David Thwaites, Emeritus Professor T. Martin Embley FMedSci FRSORCiD, Professor Robert HirtORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Plasma membrane-located transport proteins are key adaptations for obligate intracellular Microsporidia parasites, because they can use them to steal host metabolites the parasites need to grow and replicate. However, despite their importance, the functions and substrate specificities of most Microsporidia transporters are unknown. Here we provide functional data for a family of transporters conserved in all microsporidian genomes and also in the genomes of related endoparasites. The universal retention among otherwise highly reduced genomes indicates an important role for these transporters for intracellular parasites. Using Trachipleistophora hominis, a Microsporidia isolated from an HIV/AIDS patient, as our experimental model, we show that the proteins are ATP and GTP transporters located on the surface of parasites during their intracellular growth and replication. Our work identifies a new route for the acquisition of essential energy and nucleotides for a major group of intracellular parasites that infect most animal species including humans.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Major P, Sendra K, Dean P, Williams TA, Watson AK, Thwaites DT, Embley TM, Hirt RP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: eLife

Year: 2019

Volume: 8

Online publication date: 29/07/2019

Acceptance date: 23/07/2019

Date deposited: 01/08/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2050-084X

Publisher: eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd


DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47037

PubMed id: 31355745


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