Trypanosomatidae produce acetate via a mitochondrial acetate:succinate CoA transferase

Jaap J. Van Hellemond, Fred R. Opperdoes, Aloysius G.M. Tielens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogenosome-containing anaerobic protists, such as the trichomonads, produce large amounts of acetate by an acetate:succinate CoA transferase (ASCT)/succinyl CoA synthetase cycle. The notion that mitochondria and hydrogenosomes may have originated from the same α-proteobacterial endosymbiont has led us to look for the presence of a similar metabolic pathway in trypanosomatids because these are the earliest-branching mitochondriate eukaryotes and because they also are known to produce acetate. The mechanism of acetate production in these organisms, however, has remained unknown. Four different members of the trypanosomatid family: promastigotes of Leishmania mexicana mexicana, L. infantum and Phytomonas sp., and procyclics of Trypanosoma brucei were analyzed as well as the parasitic helminth Fasciola hepatica. They all use a mitochondrial ASCT for the production of acetate from acetyl CoA. The succinyl CoA that is produced during acetate formation by ASCT is recycled presumably to succinate by a mitochondrial succinyl CoA synthetase, concomitantly producing ATP from ADP. The ASCT of L. mexicana mexicana promastigotes was further characterized after partial purification of the enzyme. It has a high affinity for acetyl CoA (K(m) 0.26 mM) and a low affinity for succinate (K(m) 6.9 mM), which shows that significant acetate production can occur only when high mitochondrial succinate concentrations prevail. This study identifies a metabolic pathway common to mitochondria and hydrogenosomes, which strongly supports a common origin for these two organelles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3036-3041
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 1998


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