ATP-dependent protease complexes are present in all three kingdoms of life, where they rid the cell of misfolded or damaged proteins and control the level of certain regulatory proteins. They include the proteasome in Eukaryotes, Archea, and Actinomycetales and the HslVU (ClpQY) complex in other eubacteria. We showed that genes homologous to eubacterial HslV (ClpQ) and HslU (ClpY) are present in the genome of trypanosomatid protozoa and are expressed. The features of the cDNAs indicated that bona fide trypanosomatid messengers had been cloned and ruled out bacterial contamination as the source of the material. The N-terminal microsequence of HslV from Leishmania infantum (Protozoa: Kinetoplastida) permitted the identification of the propeptide cleavage site and indicated that an active protease is present. High similarities (> or =57.5%) with the prototypical HslV and HslU from Escherichia coli and conservation of residues essential for biochemical activity suggested that a functional HslVU complex is present in trypanosomatid protozoa. The structure of the N-termini of HslV and HslU further suggested mitochondrial localization. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that HslV and HslU from trypanosomatids clustered with eubacterial homologs but did not point to any particular bacterial lineage. Because typical eukaryotic 20S proteasomes are present in trypanosomatids, we concluded that the eubacterial HslVU and the eukaryotic multicatalytic protease are simultaneously present in these organisms. To our knowledge this is the first report of a eubacterial HslVU complex in eukaryotes and, consequently, of the simultaneous occurrence of both a proteasome and HslVU in living cells.