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Trends Parasitol. 2006 Oct;22(10):484-91. Epub 2006 Aug 21.

Trypanosome alternative oxidase: from molecule to function.

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Division of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immune Response, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.


Trypanosome alternative oxidase (TAO) is the cytochrome-independent terminal oxidase of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. TAO is a diiron protein that transfers electrons from ubiquinol to oxygen, reducing the oxygen to water. The mammalian bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei depend solely on TAO for respiration. The inhibition of TAO by salicylhydroxamic acid (SHAM) or ascofuranone is trypanocidal. TAO is present at a reduced level in the procyclic form of T. brucei, where it is engaged in respiration and is also needed for developmental processes. Alternative oxidases similar to TAO have been found in a wide variety of organisms but not in mammals, thus rendering TAO an important chemotherapeutic target for African trypanosomiasis.

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