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 18 January 2018

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News

Intestinal pathogen and disease-causing amoeba decoded

A recent report in Nature finds that Entamoeba histolytica may have picked up metabolic genes via lateral gene transfer from bacteria, containing a large repertoire of virulence genes that may be targeted with novel drugs in the future.

News image

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Entamoeba histolytica is an intestinal parasite and the causative agent of amoebiasis, which is a significant source of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.

This is the first disease-causing amoeba that has been fully sequenced and was determined by Dr Loftus and his colleagues from Rockville, America.

The research team showed that the adaptations of Entamoeba histolytica include a reduction or elimination of most mitochondrial metabolic pathways and the use of oxidative stress enzymes generally associated with anaerobic prokaryotes.

The metabolic adaptations of Entamoeba histolytica are similar to other pathogens in the deep recesses of the human body
Nature

Entamoeba histolytica has cut down on oxygen-dependent metabolic pathways and uses enzymes that can survive in poor oxygen conditions like the gut.

In this sense, the investigators noted that the metabolic adaptations are similar to other pathogens that live in the deep recesses of the human body including Giardia lamblia.

By comparison with other genomes, the investigative team discovered that the organism may have picked up metabolic genes via lateral gene transfer from bacteria.

Dr Loftus concludes, “Both the organism and bacteria contain a large repertoire of virulence genes and may be targeted with novel drugs in the future."

Nature 2005: 433(7028): 865-868
07 March 2005

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