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Eukaryot Cell. 2012 Sep;11(9):1112-8. doi: 10.1128/EC.00149-12. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

A detoxifying oxygen reductase in the anaerobic protozoan Entamoeba histolytica.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.


We report the characterization of a bacterial-type oxygen reductase abundant in the cytoplasm of the anaerobic protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Upon host infection, E. histolytica is confronted with various oxygen tensions in the host intestine, as well as increased reactive oxygen and nitrogen species at the site of local tissue inflammation. Resistance to oxygen-derived stress thus plays an important role in the pathogenic potential of E. histolytica. The genome of E. histolytica has four genes that encode flavodiiron proteins, which are bacterial-type oxygen or nitric oxide reductases and were likely acquired by lateral gene transfer from prokaryotes. The EhFdp1 gene has higher expression in virulent than in nonvirulent Entamoeba strains and species, hinting that the response to oxidative stress may be one correlate of virulence potential. We demonstrate that EhFdp1 is abundantly expressed in the cytoplasm of E. histolytica and that the protein levels are markedly increased (up to ~5-fold) upon oxygen exposure. Additionally, we produced fully functional recombinant EhFdp1 and demonstrated that this enzyme is a specific and robust oxygen reductase but has poor nitric oxide reductase activity. This observation represents a new mechanism of oxygen resistance in the anaerobic protozoan pathogen E. histolytica.

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