Entamoeba histolytica mitosomes: organelles in search of a function

Exp Parasitol. 2008 Jan;118(1):10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2007.08.004. Epub 2007 Aug 16.


It has been more than eight years since the discovery of mitosomes (mitochondrial remnant organelles) in the intestinal human pathogen Entamoeba histolytica. Despite detailed knowledge about the biochemistry of this parasite and the completion of the E. histolytica genome sequencing project no physiological function has yet been unequivocally assigned to these organelles. Entamoeba mitosomes seem to be the most degenerate of all endosymbiosis-derived organelles studied to date. They do not appear to participate in energy metabolism and may have dispensed completely with the proteins required for iron-sulphur cluster biosynthesis. However, the large number of mitosomes found in E. histolytica trophozoites hints at a significant biological role for these organelles in their natural environment. Identifying the protein complement of mitosomes will provide answers as to their biological significance and the reason(s) for their retention in this parasite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Animals
  • Entamoeba histolytica / classification
  • Entamoeba histolytica / physiology
  • Entamoeba histolytica / ultrastructure*
  • Entamoebiasis / parasitology
  • Genome, Protozoan
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Large / parasitology
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / physiology
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Organelles / genetics
  • Organelles / physiology*
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Phylogeny
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Pyruvic Acid / metabolism
  • Symbiosis


  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Pyruvic Acid