Divergent features of the coenzyme Q:cytochrome c oxidoreductase complex in Toxoplasma gondii parasites




Hayward, Jenni
Rajendran, Esther
Zwahlen, Soraya
Faou, Pierre
van Dooren, Giel

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Public Library of Science


The mitochondrion is critical for the survival of apicomplexan parasites. Several major anti-parasitic drugs, such as atovaquone and endochin-like quinolones, act through inhibition of the mitochondrial electron transport chain at the coenzyme Q:cytochrome c oxidoreductase complex (Complex III). Despite being an important drug target, the protein composition of Complex III of apicomplexan parasites has not been elucidated. Here, we undertake a mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of Complex III in the apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii. Along with canonical subunits that are conserved across eukaryotic evolution, we identify several novel or highly divergent Complex III components that are conserved within the apicomplexan lineage. We demonstrate that one such subunit, which we term TgQCR11, is critical for parasite proliferation, mitochondrial oxygen consumption and Complex III activity, and establish that loss of this protein leads to defects in Complex III integrity. We conclude that the protein composition of Complex III in apicomplexans differs from that of the mammalian hosts that these parasites infect. Author summary: Apicomplexan parasites cause numerous diseases in humans and animals, including malaria (Plasmodium species) and toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii). The coenzyme Q:cytochrome c oxidoreductase protein complex (Complex III) performs a central role in the mitochondrial electron transport chain of many eukaryotes. Despite being the target of several major anti-apicomplexan drugs, the protein composition of Complex III in apicomplexans was previously unknown. Our work identifies novel proteins in Complex III of apicomplexans, one of which is critical for complex function and integrity. Our study highlights divergent features of Complex III in apicomplexans, and provides a broader understanding of Complex III evolution in eukaryotes. Our study also provides important insights into what sets this major drug target apart from the equivalent complex in host species.





PLOS Pathogens


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Open Access

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