Entamoeba histolytica lacks trypanothione metabolism

Mark R. Ariyanayagam, Alan H. Fairlamb (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Entamoeba histolytica lacks glutathione reductase activity and the ability to synthesise glutathione de novo. However, a recent report suggested that exogenous glutathione can be taken up and conjugated to spermidine to form trypanothione, a metabolite found so far only in trypanosomatids. Given the therapeutic implications of this observation, we have carefully analysed E. histolytica for evidence of trypanothione metabolism. Using a sensitive fluorescence-based HPLC detection system we could confirm previous reports that cysteine and hydrogen sulphide are the principal low molecular mass thiols. However, we were unable to detect trypanothione or its precursor N1-glutathionylspermidine [<0.01 nmol (106 cells)-1 or <1.7 μM]. In contrast, Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigotes (grown in a polyamine-supplemented medium) and Leishmania donovani promastigotes contained intracellular concentrations of trypanothione two to three orders of magnitude greater than the limits of detection. Likewise, trypanothione reductase activity was not detectable in E. histolytica [<0.003 U (mg protein)-1] and therefore at least 100-fold less than trypanosomatids. Moreover, although E. histolytica were found to contain trace amounts of glutathione (approximately 20 μM), glutathione reductase activity was below the limits of detection [<0.005 U (mg protein)-1]. These findings argue against the existence of trypanothione metabolism in E. histolytica. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-69
    Number of pages9
    JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 1999


    • Entamoeba histolytica
    • Evolution
    • Glutathione
    • Mitochondrion
    • Thiols
    • Trypanothione

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Parasitology
    • Molecular Biology


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