Hydrogenosome autophagy: an ultrastructural and cytochemical study

Biol Cell. 1999 Jun;91(3):165-74. doi: 10.1016/s0248-4900(99)80039-2.


The process of autophagy was studied in Tritrichomonas foetus under serum deprivation, drug treatment (hydroxyurea, zinc sulfate), and also in normal conditions using routine electron microscopy, freeze-fracture, freeze-substitution, and enzyme cytochemistry. We also used gold particles conjugated with bovine albumin to better characterize the participation of lysosomes in the process of hydrogenosome degradation. Apparently normal hydrogenosomes and also giant, abnormal hydrogenosomes presenting internal membranes were seen in the autophagic process. The first event observed was the rough endoplasmic reticulum surrounding and enclosing the hydrogenosome, forming an isolation membrane. The hydrogenosomes were first sequestered from the remaining cytoplasm and then degraded within lysosomes. The autophagic vacuoles were limited by double or multiple concentric membranes and many contained recognizable hydrogenosomes, probably in the preliminary steps of degradation. Lysosomes seemed to fuse with autophagic vacuoles forming a degradative structure bound by a single membrane and containing hydrogenosomes in various stages of degeneration. Hydrogenosomes appeared partially degraded, forming hydrogenosomal remnants. It was observed that there is a removal of hydrogenosomes in normal cells and in cases of cell toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Cattle
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Hydrogen
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Organelles / drug effects*
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Trichomonas / drug effects*
  • Trichomonas / metabolism
  • Trichomonas / ultrastructure
  • Zinc Sulfate / pharmacology


  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Hydrogen
  • Hydroxyurea