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Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(9):872-81.

The hydrogenosome as a drug target.

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Universidade Santa Ursula, Laboratório de Ultraestrutura Celular, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Hydrogenosomes are spherical or slightly elongated organelles found in non-mitochondrial organisms. In Trichomonas hydrogenosomes measure between 200 to 500 nm, but under drug treatment they can reach 2 microm. Like mitochondria hydrogenosomes: (1) are surrounded by two closely apposed membranes and present a granular matrix: (2) divide in three different ways: segmentation, partition and the heart form; (3) they may divide at any phase of the cell cycle; (4) produce ATP; (5) participate in the metabolism of pyruvate formed during glycolysis; (6) are the site of molecular hydrogen formation; (7) present a relationship with the endoplasmic reticulum; (8) incorporate calcium; (9) import proteins post-translationally; (10) present cardiolipin. However, there are differences, such as: (1) absence of genetic material, at least in trichomonas; (2) lack a respiratory chain and cytochromes; (3) absence of the F(0)-F(1) ATPase; (4) absence of the tricarboxylic acid cycle; (5) lack of oxidative phosphorylation; (6) presence of peripheral vesicles. Hydrogenosomes are considered an excellent drug target since their metabolic pathway is distinct from those found in mitochondria and thus medicines directed to these organelles will probably not affect the host-cell. The main drug used against trichomonads is metronidazole, although other drugs such as beta-Lapachone, colchicine, Taxol, nocodazole, griseofulvin, cytochalasins, hydroxyurea, among others, have been used in trichomonad studies, showing: (1) flagella internalization forming pseudocyst; (2) dysfunctional hydrogenosomes; (3) hydrogenosomes with abnormal sizes and shapes and with an electron dense deposit called nucleoid; (4) intense autophagy in which hydrogenosomes are removed and further digested in lysosomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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