Euglena gracilis rhodoquinone:ubiquinone ratio and mitochondrial proteome differ under aerobic and anaerobic conditions

Meike Hoffmeister, Anita Van Der Klies, Carmen Rotte, Koen W.A. Van Grinsven, Jaap J. Van Hellemond, Katrin Henze, Aloysius G.M. Tielens, William Martin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Euglena gracilis cells grown under aerobic and anaerobic conditions were compared for their whole cell rhodoquinone and ubiquinone content and for major protein spots contained in isolated mitachondria as assayed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry sequencing. Anaerobically grown cells had higher rhodoquinone levels than aerobically grown cells in agreement with earlier findings indicating the need for fumarate reductase activity in anaerobic wax ester fermentation in Euglena. Microsequencing revealed components of complex III and complex IV of the respiratory chain and the E1β subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase to be present in mitochondria of aerobically grown cells but lacking in mitochondria from anaerobically grown cells. No proteins were identified as specific to mitochondria from anaerobically grown cells. cDNAs for the E1α, E2, and E3 subunits of mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase were cloned and shown to be differentially expressed under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Their expression patterns differed from that of mitochondrial pyruvate: NADP+ oxidoreductase, the N-terminal domain of which is pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase, an enzyme otherwise typical of hydrogenosomes, hydrogen-producing forms of mitochondria found among anaerobic protists. The Euglena mitochondrion is thus a long sought intermediate that unites biochemical properties of aerobic and anaerobic mitochondria and hydrogenosomes because it contains both pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase and rhodoquinone typical of hydrogenosomes and anaerobic mitochondria as well as pyruvate dehydrogenase and ubiquinone typical of aerobic mitochondria. Our data show that under aerobic conditions Euglena mitochondria are prepared for anaerobic function and furthermore suggest that the ancestor of mitochondria was a facultative anaerobe, segments of whose physiology have been preserved in the Euglena lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22422-22429
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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