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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1999 Sep 20;103(1):61-9.

Entamoeba histolytica lacks trypanothione metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK.


Entamoeba histolytica lacks glutathione reductase activity and the ability to synthesise glutathione de novo. However, a recent report suggested that exogenous glutathione can be taken up and conjugated to spermidine to form trypanothione, a metabolite found so far only in trypanosomatids. Given the therapeutic implications of this observation, we have carefully analysed E. histolytica for evidence of trypanothione metabolism. Using a sensitive fluorescence-based HPLC detection system we could confirm previous reports that cysteine and hydrogen sulphide are the principal low molecular mass thiols. However, we were unable to detect trypanothione or its precursor N1-glutathionylspermidine [ < 0.01 nmol (10(6) cells)(-1) or < 1.7 microM]. In contrast, Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigotes (grown in a polyamine-supplemented medium) and Leishmania donovani promastigotes contained intracellular concentrations of trypanothione two to three orders of magnitude greater than the limits of detection. Likewise, trypanothione reductase activity was not detectable in E. histolytica [ < 0.003 U (mg protein)(-1)] and therefore at least 100-fold less than trypanosomatids. Moreover, although E. histolytica were found to contain trace amounts of glutathione (approximately 20 microM), glutathione reductase activity was below the limits of detection [ < 0.005 U (mg protein)(-1)]. These findings argue against the existence of trypanothione metabolism in E. histolytica.

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