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Professor Derek Nolan

Professor In (Biochemistry)

I have worked on African trypanosomes, which cause human sleeping sickness, for twenty years. As a PhD student I investigated the bioenergetics of T. brucei in Paul Voorheis' laboratory at Trinity College Dublin. Subsequently, I moved to Brussels in 1992, as an EMBO fellow, to join the group of Etienne Pays to study the expression and function of surface proteins in trypanosomes. In 1994 I was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship and focused on the problem of endocytosis in trypanosmes. Trypanosomes are absolutely dependent on their hosts for a supply of iron and lipoproteins and this traffic is highly polarized and extremely rapid in bloodstream forms of the parasite. In the summer of 2001 I was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Trust to characterize proteins from the flagellar pocket and endocytic pathway in African trypanosomes. These parasitic protozoans cause sleeping sickness in humans and related diseases in domestic animals. Human sleeping sickness is invariably fatal unless treated. Of the four drugs currently employed to treat infections, resistance to two has emerged and the drug of choice, suramin, is suitable only in early stages. Trypanosomiasis is also considered one of the greatest health constraint to livestock productivity in sub-Saharan Africa with costs ranging between $2 and $5 billion annually. African trypanosomes are clearly a global health issue and are an enormous medical, veterinary and economic burden on some of the poorest regions on earth. Apart from their utilitarian interest, trypanosomes have proved to have great intrinsic scientific interest. These unicellular eukaryotes have evolved very differently from the better studied organisms, e.g. bacteria, yeast and metazoans, on which the foundations of biology have been built. Some of the most basic cellular and genetic pathways have developed very differently in trypanosomes but other processes first described and characterized in trypanosomes are now known to be important in mammalian cells. From the nucleus to the plasma membrane trypanosomes have provided fascinating insights including unusual genome organisation, pol I transcription of coding genes, expression sites and novel nuclear substructures, RNA editing, mitochondrial repression/activation, compartmentalization of glycolysis, GPI anchors, unusual organisation of surface proteins and the endocytic pathway, polarized cytoskeletons, golgi duplication and many other phenomena. By any criterion, whether biochemical, molecular or cellular, trypanosomes have more than punched their weight in terms of a contribution to our understanding of eukaryotic biology. osomes and returned to Trinity College Dublin at the end of 2001
 Polarity and function of actin in vesicle traffic in African trypanosomes
 Characterization of glycoproteins from the flagellar pocket and endocytic pathway in African trypanosomes: a new paradigm for protein trafficking in a highly polarized cell.
 "In silico discovery of novel therapeteutics for African Sleeping Sickness.
 Organization of the actin cytoskeleton in African trypansomes.
 "Energy metabolism of trypansomes: towards a better understanding of mitochondrial metabolism"

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Details Date
Reviewer for European Journal of Biochemistry; EMBO Journal; Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology; Parasitology Today; J. Cell Science; Molecular Microbiology 2007-
Grant reviewer for: [1] - The National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C. 20550, U.S.A. [2] - The Wellcome Trust (UK), FNRS (Belgium), BBSRC (UK) grant reviewer ERC
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Basic Medium
Spanish Basic Basic Basic
Details Date From Date To
Member of the Biochemical Society London Treasurer of Irish Area Section of Biochemical Society Member of the British Society for Parasitology 2014
Fitzgerald, H.K.; O'Rourke, S.A.; Desmond, E.; Neto, N.G.B.; Monaghan, M.G.; Tosetto, M.; Doherty, J.; Ryan, E.J.; Doherty, G.A.; Nolan, D.P.; Fletcher, J.M.; Dunne, A, The Trypanosoma brucei-Derived Ketoacids, Indole Pyruvate and Hydroxyphenylpyruvate, Induce HO-1 Expression and Suppress Inflammatory Responses in Human Dendritic Cells, Antioxidants, 11, 2022, p164-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Pays E, Nolan DP., Genetic and immunological basis of human African trypanosomiasis., Current opinion in immunology, 72, 2021, p13-20 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Diskin, C. and Corcoran, S.E. and Tyrrell, V.J. and McGettrick, A.F. and Zaslona, Z. and O'Donnell, V.B. and Nolan, D.P. and O'Neill, L.A.J., The Trypanosome-Derived Metabolite Indole-3-Pyruvate Inhibits Prostaglandin Production in Macrophages by Targeting COX2, Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 207, (10), 2021, p2551-2560 , Notes: [cited By 1], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Lecordier L, Uzureau S, Vanwalleghem G, Deleu M, Crowet JM, Barry P, Moran B, Voorheis P, Dumitru AC, Yamaryo-Botté Y, Dieu M, Tebabi P, Vanhollebeke B, Lins L, Botté CY, Alsteens D, Dufrêne Y, Pérez-Morga D, Nolan DP, Pays E., The Trypanosoma Brucei KIFC1 Kinesin Ensures the Fast Antibody Clearance Required for Parasite Infectivity., iScience, 23, (9), 2020, p101476 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Hayes P., Fergus C., Ghanim M., Cirzi C., Burtnyak L., McGrenaghan C.J., Tuorto F., Nolan D.P., Kelly V.P., Queuine micronutrient deficiency promotes warburg metabolism and reversal of the mitochondrial ATP synthase in hela cells, Nutrients, 12, (3), 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Campbell NK, Williams DG, Fitzgerald HK, Barry PJ, Cunningham CC, Nolan DP, Dunne A., Trypanosoma brucei Secreted Aromatic Ketoacids Activate the Nrf2/HO-1 Pathway and Suppress Pro-inflammatory Responses in Primary Murine Glia and Macrophages , Frontiers in Immunology-Microbial Immunology, 11, 2019, Notes: [doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02137. eCollection 2019.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Doherty W, Adler N, Knox A, Nolan D, McGouran J, Nikalje A.P, Lokwani D, Sarkate A, Evans P, Synthesis and Evaluation of 1,2,3-Triazole-Containing Vinyl and Allyl Sulfones as Anti-Trypanosomal Agents, European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2017, (1), 2017, p175 - 185, Notes: [Export Date: 27 January 2017], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Terry K. Smith, Frédéric Bringaud, Derek P. Nolan, Luisa M. Figueiredo, Metabolic reprogramming during the Trypanosoma brucei life cycle, F1000Research, 2017, p683-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text
McGettrick AF, Corcoran SE, Barry PJ, McFarland J, Crès C, Curtis AM, Franklin E, Corr SC, Mok KH, Cummins EP, Taylor CT, O'Neill LA, Nolan DP, Trypanosoma brucei metabolite indolepyruvate decreases HIF-1α and glycolysis in macrophages as a mechanism of innate immune evasion., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. , 113, (48), 2016, E7778-E7787 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
McGettrick AF, Corcoran SE, Barry PJG, McFarland J, Curtis AM, Franklin E, Corr SC, Mok KH, Cummins EP, Taylor CT, O'Neill LAJ, Nolan DP, The Trypanosoma brucei metabolite indolepyruvate decreases HIF-1 and glycolysis in macrophages as a mechanism of innate immune evasion, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 113, (48), 2016, pE7778 - E7787, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL

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Nolan, D.P. and Pays, E., Expression and function surface proteins in Trypanosoma brucei, The trypanosome surface Proceedings of the third Francqui colloquium, Francqui Scientific library De Boeck Brussels, 1999, pp5 - 51, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED


Award Date
EMBO long term Fellowship 1992
Marie Curie Fellowship 1994
. Expression and function of surface proteins in protozoan parasites. Endocytosis, protein traffic and flagellar pocket function.. Parasite Bioenergetics . regulation and function of actin cytoskeleton. . Molecular and cell biology of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei. . Vesicular traffic and the actin cytoskeleton in T. brucei.