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In an RNAi library screen for loss of kinetoplast DNA (kDNA), we identified an uncharacterized Trypanosoma brucei protein, named TbLOK1, required for maintenance of mitochondrial shape and function. We found the TbLOK1 protein located in discrete patches in the mitochondrial outer membrane. Knock-down of TbLOK1 in procyclic trypanosomes caused the highly interconnected mitochondrial structure to collapse, forming an unbranched tubule remarkably similar to the streamlined organelle seen in the bloodstream form. Following RNAi, defects in mitochondrial respiration, inner membrane potential and mitochondrial transcription were observed. At later times following TbLOK1 depletion, kDNA was lost and a more drastic alteration in mitochondrial structure was found. Our results demonstrate the close relationship between organelle structure and function in trypanosomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Microbiol

Publication Date





713 - 729


DNA, Kinetoplast, Humans, Membrane Proteins, Mitochondria, Protozoan Proteins, Trypanosoma brucei brucei, Trypanosomiasis, African