Acidocalcisomes are acidic vacuoles present in trypanosomatids that contain a considerable fraction of intracellular Ca2+ [Vercesi, Moreno and Docampo (1994) Biochem. J. 304, 227–233; Scott, Moreno and Docampo (1995) Biochem. J. 310, 789–794; Docampo, Scott, Vercesi and Moreno (1995) Biochem. J. 310, 1005–1012]. The data presented here indicate that Na+ stimulates Ca2+ release from the acidocalcisomes of digitonin-permeabilized Trypanosoma brucei procyclic trypomastigotes in a dose-dependent fashion, this effect being enhanced by increasing pH of the medium from 7.0 to 7.8. The hypothesis that this Na+ effect was mediated by alkalinization of the acidocalcisomes via a Na+/H+ antiporter was supported by experiments showing that Na+ promotes release of Acridine Orange previously accumulated in these vacuoles. This putative antiporter did not transport Li+ and was not sensitive to the amiloride analogue 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)amiloride. Addition of the Na+/H+ ionophore monensin to intact cells loaded with fura 2, in the nominal absence of extracellular Ca2+ to preclude Ca2+ entry, was followed by an increase in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), which was more accentuated in the presence of extracellular Na+. An increase in intracellular pH (pHi) of BCECF-loaded cells was detected after addition of monensin in the presence of extracellular Na+, whereas a dramatic decrease in pHi was detected in its absence, thus indicating the presence of a significant amount of releasable protons in the acidic compartments. These results are consistent with the presence of a Na+/H+ antiporter in the acidocalcisomes that could be involved in the regulation of pHi and [Ca2+]i in these parasites.

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