Metabolic studies of the protozoan parasite, Crithidia luciliae, using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Frances V. Gilroy, Michael R. Edwards, Raymond S. Norton, William J. O'Sullivan

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Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to follow glucose metabolism in Crithidia luciliae. Parasites were grown aerobically and anaerobically in culture, with glucose as the major carbon source and 1H NMR spectra were acquired for the cell free medium. The 1H NMR resonances of metabolites utilised and produced during cell growth were identified by difference spectroscopy, and quantitated from standard curves using 3-trimethylsilyl propionate-2,2,3,3-d4 sodium salt as an internal standard. The major metabolites produced by C. luciliae grown aerobically on 8 mM glucose were succinate, pyruvate, acetate and ethanol, in final concentrations in the media when the cells entered stationary phase of 8.5±0.5, 5.0±0.3, 2.1±0.2 and 2.5±0.6 mM, respectively. The production of succinate and pyruvate, but not acetate and ethanol, followed closely the growth curve of the parasites. Succinate was also measured enzymically and glucose using an autoanalyser. In both cases the results correlated well with the NMR data. The amounts of end products formed were greater than could be accounted for by the utilisation of glucose or any other metabolite observable in the 1H NMR spectra. There was approximately one extra atom of carbon for each molecule of succinate formed, supporting the view that succinate is produced via phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and carbon dioxide fixation. Anaerobically the same major metabolites were produced, but with a decreased ratio of succinate to acetate and ethanol. The formation of glycerol from glucose was not observed under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • H magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Crithidia luciliae
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Kinetoplastida
  • Succinate

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