Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35322502
Link to HAL – pasteur-03682192
Link to DOI – 10.1111/jeu.12908
J Eukaryot Microbiol 2022 Jul; 69(4): e12908
The alternative oxidase (AOX) is a protein involved in supporting enzymatic reactions of the Krebs cycle in instances when the canonical (cytochrome-mediated) respiratory chain has been inhibited, while allowing for the maintenance of cell growth and necessary metabolic processes for survival. Among eukaryotes, alternative oxidases have dispersed distribution and are found in plants, fungi, and protists, including Naegleria ssp. Naegleria species are free-living unicellular amoeboflagellates and include the pathogenic species of N. fowleri, the so-called “brain-eating amoeba.” Using a multidisciplinary approach, we aimed to understand the evolution, localization, and function of AOX and the role that plays in Naegleria’s biology. Our analyses suggest that AOX was present in last common ancestor of the genus and structure prediction showed that all functional residues are also present in Naegleria species. Using cellular and biochemical techniques, we also functionally characterize N. gruberi’s AOX in its mitochondria, and we demonstrate that its inactivation affects its proliferation. Consequently, we discuss the benefits of the presence of this protein in Naegleria species, along with its potential pathogenicity role in N. fowleri. We predict that our findings will spearhead new explorations to understand the cell biology, metabolism, and evolution of Naegleria and other free-living relatives.