Research

Digestive enzymes of amoebas cause disease

Amoebas (Entamoeba histolytic) possess an arsenal of digestive enzymes, including so-called peptidases or proteases. These are enzymes that cleave other proteins and so are able to digest them.

Digestive enzymes called peptidases are located on the surface of amoebas. Three single amoebas are shown; peptidases EhCP-A1, -A2, and -A5, respectively, (green) and nucleus of the amoeba (blue) (Photography: Iris Bruchhaus).
Digestive enzymes called peptidases are located on the surface of amoebas. Three single amoebas are shown; peptidases EhCP-A1, -A2, and -A5, respectively, (green) and nucleus of the amoeba (blue) (Photography: Iris Bruchhaus).

A series of studies have shown that these enzymes not only digest, but also participate in the pathogenic activities of the amoebas, e.g. in the formation of hepatic abscesses in our amoebiasis mouse model. We showed this effect for three of the 35 total amoeba peptidases. When amoebas selected not to form hepatic abscesses were genetically altered so that they produced these three peptidases in larger quantities, they again caused abscesses.

 


Matthiesen J. et al., mBio 2013, 26; 4(2)

Jenny Matthiesen, Ann-Katrein Bär, Anne-Kathrin Bartels, Dennis Marien, Susann Ofori, Laura Biller, Egbert Tannich, Hanna Lotter, Iris Bruchhaus, and external cooperation partners (see publication)