Characterization and evolution of vertebrate indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenases IDOs from monotremes and marsupials

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2009 Jun;153(2):137-44.


Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) are tryptophan-degrading enzymes that catalyze the first step in tryptophan catabolism via the kynurenine pathway. TDO is widely distributed in both eukaryotes and bacteria. In contrast, IDO has been found only in mammals and yeast. In 2007, a third enzyme, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-2 (IDO2), was discovered. IDO2 is found not only in mammals but also in lower vertebrates. Interestingly, the Km value of IDO2 for L-Trp was 500-1000 fold higher than that of IDO1. In this study, we isolated both IDO1 and IDO2 cDNA from a monotreme, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), and a marsupial, the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica). We characterized the recombinant proteins and those of other known IDO1/IDO2 in intact cells and a cell-free system. It was found that methylene blue may not be suitable reductant for IDO2, hence resulting in an underestimation of recombinant IDO2 activity. In intact cells, the Km value of IDO2 for L-Trp was estimated to be much higher than that of IDO1 and this high Km value appears to have been conserved during the evolution of IDO2. The protein encoded by the ancestor gene of IDO1 and IDO2 is likely to have had properties more similar to present day IDO2 than to IDO1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase / genetics
  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase / isolation & purification
  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase / metabolism*
  • Methylene Blue / metabolism
  • Monodelphis / genetics
  • Monodelphis / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Platypus / genetics
  • Platypus / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tryptophan Oxygenase / genetics
  • Tryptophan Oxygenase / isolation & purification
  • Tryptophan Oxygenase / metabolism*


  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tryptophan
  • Tryptophan Oxygenase
  • Methylene Blue