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1.  Biochemistry and Evolution of Anaerobic Energy Metabolism in Eukaryotes 
Summary: Major insights into the phylogenetic distribution, biochemistry, and evolutionary significance of organelles involved in ATP synthesis (energy metabolism) in eukaryotes that thrive in anaerobic environments for all or part of their life cycles have accrued in recent years. All known eukaryotic groups possess an organelle of mitochondrial origin, mapping the origin of mitochondria to the eukaryotic common ancestor, and genome sequence data are rapidly accumulating for eukaryotes that possess anaerobic mitochondria, hydrogenosomes, or mitosomes. Here we review the available biochemical data on the enzymes and pathways that eukaryotes use in anaerobic energy metabolism and summarize the metabolic end products that they generate in their anaerobic habitats, focusing on the biochemical roles that their mitochondria play in anaerobic ATP synthesis. We present metabolic maps of compartmentalized energy metabolism for 16 well-studied species. There are currently no enzymes of core anaerobic energy metabolism that are specific to any of the six eukaryotic supergroup lineages; genes present in one supergroup are also found in at least one other supergroup. The gene distribution across lineages thus reflects the presence of anaerobic energy metabolism in the eukaryote common ancestor and differential loss during the specialization of some lineages to oxic niches, just as oxphos capabilities have been differentially lost in specialization to anoxic niches and the parasitic life-style. Some facultative anaerobes have retained both aerobic and anaerobic pathways. Diversified eukaryotic lineages have retained the same enzymes of anaerobic ATP synthesis, in line with geochemical data indicating low environmental oxygen levels while eukaryotes arose and diversified.
PMCID: PMC3372258  PMID: 22688819
2.  Protein Import into Hydrogenosomes of Trichomonas vaginalis Involves both N-Terminal and Internal Targeting Signals: a Case Study of Thioredoxin Reductases▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(10):1750-1757.
The parabasalian flagellate Trichomonas vaginalis harbors mitochondrion-related and H2-producing organelles of anaerobic ATP synthesis, called hydrogenosomes, which harbor oxygen-sensitive enzymes essential to its pyruvate metabolism. In the human urogenital tract, however, T. vaginalis is regularly exposed to low oxygen concentrations and therefore must possess antioxidant systems protecting the organellar environment against the detrimental effects of molecular oxygen and reactive oxygen species. We have identified two closely related hydrogenosomal thioredoxin reductases (TrxRs), the hitherto-missing component of a thioredoxin-linked hydrogenosomal antioxidant system. One of the two hydrogenosomal TrxR isoforms, TrxRh1, carried an N-terminal extension resembling known hydrogenosomal targeting signals. Expression of hemagglutinin-tagged TrxRh1 in transfected T. vaginalis cells revealed that its N-terminal extension was necessary to import the protein into the organelles. The second hydrogenosomal TrxR isoform, TrxRh2, had no N-terminal targeting signal but was nonetheless efficiently targeted to hydrogenosomes. N-terminal presequences from hydrogenosomal proteins with known processing sites, i.e., the alpha subunit of succinyl coenzyme A synthetase (SCSα) and pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase A, were investigated for their ability to direct mature TrxRh1 to hydrogenosomes. Neither presequence directed TrxRh1 to hydrogenosomes, indicating that neither extension is, by itself, sufficient for hydrogenosomal targeting. Moreover, SCSα lacking its N-terminal extension was efficiently imported into hydrogenosomes, indicating that this extension is not required for import of this major hydrogenosomal protein. The finding that some hydrogenosomal enzymes require N-terminal signals for import but that in others the N-terminal extension is not necessary for targeting indicates the presence of additional targeting signals within the mature subunits of several hydrogenosome-localized proteins.
PMCID: PMC2568060  PMID: 18676956
3.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;315(5809):207-212.
We describe the genome sequence of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted human pathogen. Repeats and transposable elements comprise about two-thirds of the ~160-megabase genome, reflecting a recent massive expansion of genetic material. This expansion, in conjunction with the shaping of metabolic pathways that likely transpired through lateral gene transfer from bacteria, and amplification of specific gene families implicated in pathogenesis and phagocytosis of host proteins may exemplify adaptations of the parasite during its transition to a urogenital environment. The genome sequence predicts previously unknown functions for the hydrogenosome, which support a common evolutionary origin of this unusual organelle with mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2080659  PMID: 17218520
4.  Fe-Hydrogenase Maturases in the Hydrogenosomes of Trichomonas vaginalis†  
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;5(3):579-586.
Assembly of active Fe-hydrogenase in the chloroplasts of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii requires auxiliary maturases, the S-adenosylmethionine-dependent enzymes HydG and HydE and the GTPase HydF. Genes encoding homologous maturases had been found in the genomes of all eubacteria that contain Fe-hydrogenase genes but not yet in any other eukaryote. By means of proteomic analysis, we identified a homologue of HydG in the hydrogenosomes, mitochondrion-related organelles that produce hydrogen under anaerobiosis by the activity of Fe-hydrogenase, in the pathogenic protist Trichomonas vaginalis. Genes encoding two other components of the Hyd system, HydE and HydF, were found in the T. vaginalis genome database. Overexpression of HydG, HydE, and HydF in trichomonads showed that all three proteins are specifically targeted to the hydrogenosomes, the site of Fe-hydrogenase maturation. The results of Neighbor-Net analyses of sequence similarities are consistent with a common eubacterial ancestor of HydG, HydE, and HydF in T. vaginalis and C. reinhardtii, supporting a monophyletic origin of Fe-hydrogenase maturases in the two eukaryotes. Although Fe-hydrogenases exist in only a few eukaryotes, related Narf proteins with different cellular functions are widely distributed. Thus, we propose that the acquisition of Fe-hydrogenases, together with Hyd maturases, occurred once in eukaryotic evolution, followed by the appearance of Narf through gene duplication of the Fe-hydrogenase gene and subsequent loss of the Hyd proteins in eukaryotes in which Fe-hydrogenase function was lost.
PMCID: PMC1398061  PMID: 16524912

Results 1-4 (4)