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Infect Immun. 2003 Oct;71(10):5910-20.

Iron superoxide dismutases targeted to the glycosomes of Leishmania chagasi are important for survival.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.


Kinetoplastid glycosomes contain a variety of metabolic activities, such as glycolysis, beta-oxidation of fatty acids, lipid biosynthesis, and purine salvage. One advantage of sequestering metabolic activities is the avoidance of cellular oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species produced as a by-product of metabolism. Little is known about how glycosomes themselves withstand these toxic metabolites. We previously isolated an iron superoxide dismutase from Leishmania chagasi that is expressed at low levels in the early logarithmic promastigote stage and increases toward the stationary promastigote and amastigote stages. We have since identified a second highly homologous Lcfesodb gene that is expressed at high levels in the early logarithmic promastigote stage and decreases toward the stationary promastigote and amastigote stages. Localization studies using green fluorescent protein fusions have revealed that LcFeSODB1 and LcFeSODB2 are localized within the glycosomes by the last three amino acids of their carboxyl termini. To better understand the specific role that FeSODB plays in parasite growth and survival, a single-allele knockout of the Lcfesodb1 gene was generated. The parasites with these genes exhibited a significant reduction in growth when endogenous superoxide levels were increased with paraquat in culture. Furthermore, the FeSODB1-deficient parasites exhibited a significant reduction in survival within human macrophages. Our results suggest that LcFeSODB plays an important role in parasite growth and survival by protecting glycosomes from superoxide toxicity.

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