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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Dec;66(6):1306-20.

Novel mitochondrion-related organelles in the anaerobic amoeba Mastigamoeba balamuthi.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, B3H 1X5, Canada.


Unicellular eukaryotes that lack mitochondria typically contain related organelles such as hydrogenosomes or mitosomes. To characterize the evolutionary diversity of these organelles, we conducted an expressed sequence tag (EST) survey on the free-living amoeba Mastigamoeba balamuthi, a relative of the human parasite Entamoeba histolytica. From 19 182 ESTs, we identified 21 putative mitochondrial proteins implicated in protein import, amino acid interconversion and carbohydrate metabolism, two components of the iron-sulphur cluster (Fe-S) assembly apparatus as well as two enzymes characteristic of hydrogenosomes. By immunofluorescence microscopy and subcellular fractionation, we show that mitochondrial chaperonin 60 is targeted to small abundant organelles within Mastigamoeba. In transmission electron micrographs, we identified double-membraned compartments that likely correspond to these mitochondrion-derived organelles, The predicted organellar proteome of the Mastigamoeba organelle indicates a unique spectrum of functions that collectively have never been observed in mitochondrion-related organelles. However, like Entamoeba, the Fe-S cluster assembly proteins in Mastigamoeba were acquired by lateral gene transfer from epsilon-proteobacteria and do not possess obvious organellar targeting peptides. These data indicate that the loss of classical aerobic mitochondrial functions and acquisition of anaerobic enzymes and Fe-S cluster assembly proteins occurred in a free-living member of the eukaryote super-kingdom Amoebozoa.

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