Mitosomes in Parasitic Protists

  • Jan TachezyEmail author
  • Ondřej Šmíd
Part of the Microbiology Monographs book series (MICROMONO, volume 9)


Mitosomes are highly reduced forms of mitochondria, which were found in several parasitic protists of various eukaryotic lineages, including the human parasites Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium spp., Mikrocytos mackini, and microsporidians. Although all these organisms underwent different evolutionary histories, they arrived at common life strategies for which oxygen-dependent ATP synthesis is not required: they inhabit either an oxygen-poor environment such as the intestinal tract of their hosts or they are adapted to intracellular parasitism. Consequently, the majority of their mitochondrial functions were permanently lost including ATP synthesis with concomitant loss of the organellar genome. The common features of mitosomes, which were retained and pointed to their mitochondrial origin, are a double membrane surrounding the organellar matrix, conserved mechanisms of protein import and processing, and the biosynthesis of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters. Finding the latter function in mitosomes supports the notion that Fe-S cluster assembly is the only essential function of mitochondria necessary for the maturation of cellular Fe-S proteins. Only in the mitosomes of Entamoeba histolytica the mitochondrion type of Fe-S cluster assembly machinery was not conserved, and these organelles gained a unique sulfate activation pathway. In spite of a great progress in elucidation of the evolutionary paths leading to the formation of mitosomes, cellular functions of mitosomes are still poorly understood.



Research in the JT laboratory is supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic project NPU II (LQ1604) and by ERD Funds project CePaViP (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000759).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science, BIOCEV, Department of ParasitologyCharles UniversityVestecCzech Republic

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