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Parasite helps itself to sugar

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Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness, is transmitted to mammals by the tsetse fly, and must adapt to the divergent metabolisms of its hosts. A new study shows how it copes with the frugal diet offered by the fly.

Sleeping sickness is a deadly human disease in tropical Africa, caused by the unicellular parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Many species of mammals, including humans, are susceptible to the pathogen, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly. In the course of its life cycle, the parasite must adapt to very different physiological environments and food sources, and has therefore evolved a highly flexible form of energy metabolism.

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