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Parasite surfaces support multiple functions required for survival within their hosts, and maintenance and functionality of the surface depends on membrane trafficking. To understand the evolutionary history of trypanosomatid trafficking, where multiple lifestyles and mechanisms of host interactions are known, we examined protein families central to defining intracellular compartments and mediating transport, namely Rabs, SNAREs and RabGAPs, across all available Euglenozoa genomes. Bodonids possess a large trafficking repertoire, which is mainly retained by the Trypanosoma cruzi group, with extensive losses in other lineages, particularly African trypanosomes and phytomonads. There are no large-scale expansions or contractions from an inferred ancestor, excluding direct associations between parasitism or host range. However, we observe stepwise secondary losses within Rab and SNARE cohorts (but not RabGAPs). Major changes are associated with endosomal and late exocytic pathways, consistent with the diversity in surface proteomes between trypanosomatids and mechanisms of interaction with the host. Along with the conserved core family proteins, several lineage-specific members of the Rab (but not SNARE) family were found. Significantly, testing predictions of SNARE complex composition by proteomics confirms generalised retention of function across eukaryotes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





1421 - 1434


Molecular evolution, Proteomics, Rab, SNARE, TBC domain, Trafficking, Trypanosoma, Biological Evolution, Cell Membrane, Conserved Sequence, Endocytosis, Euglenozoa, Exocytosis, GTPase-Activating Proteins, Genome, Host Specificity, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Protein Transport, Proteomics, Protozoan Proteins, SNARE Proteins, Species Specificity, Trypanosoma cruzi, rab GTP-Binding Proteins