Uniqueness of Entamoeba sulfur metabolism: sulfolipid metabolism that plays pleiotropic roles in the parasitic life cycle

Fumika Mi-ichi, Tomofumi Miyamoto, Hiroki Yoshida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfur metabolism is ubiquitous and terminally synthesizes various biomolecules that are crucial for organisms, such as sulfur-containing amino acids and co-factors, sulfolipids and sulfated saccharides. Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite responsible for amoebiasis, possesses the unique sulfur metabolism features of atypical localization and its terminal product being limited to sulfolipids. Here, we present an overall scheme of E. histolytica sulfur metabolism by relating all sulfotransferases and sulfatases to their substrates and products. Furthermore, a novel sulfur metabolite, fatty alcohol disulfates, was identified and shown to play an important role in trophozoite proliferation. Cholesteryl sulfate, another synthesized sulfolipid, was previously demonstrated to play an important role in encystation, a differentiation process from proliferative trophozoite to dormant cyst. Entamoeba survives by alternating between these two distinct forms; therefore, Entamoeba sulfur metabolism contributes to the parasitic life cycle via its terminal products. Interestingly, this unique feature of sulfur metabolism is not conserved in the nonparasitic close relative of Entamoeba, Mastigamoeba, because lateral gene transfer-mediated acquisition of sulfatases and sulfotransferases, critical enzymes conferring this feature, has only occurred in the Entamoeba lineage. Hence, our findings suggest that sulfolipid metabolism has a causal relationship with parasitism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-491
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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