Endosymbiotic relationships between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are common in nature. Endosymbioses between two eukaryotes are also known; cyanobacterium-derived plastids have spread horizontally when one eukaryote assimilated another. A unique instance of a non-photosynthetic, eukaryotic endosymbiont involves members of the genus Paramoeba, amoebozoans that infect marine animals such as farmed fish and sea urchins. Paramoeba species harbor endosymbionts belonging to the Kinetoplastea, a diverse group of flagellate protists including some that cause devastating diseases. To elucidate the nature of this eukaryote-eukaryote association, we sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of Paramoeba pemaquidensis and its endosymbiont Perkinsela sp. The endosymbiont nuclear genome is ~9.5 Mbp in size, the smallest of a kinetoplastid thus far discovered. Genomic analyses show that Perkinsela sp. has lost the ability to make a flagellum but retains hallmark features of kinetoplastid biology, including polycistronic transcription, trans-splicing, and a glycosome-like organelle. Mosaic biochemical pathways suggest extensive 'cross-talk' between the two organisms, and electron microscopy shows that the endosymbiont ingests amoeba cytoplasm, a novel form of endosymbiont-host communication. Our data reveal the cell biological and biochemical basis of the obligate relationship between Perkinsela sp. and its amoeba host, and provide a foundation for understanding pathogenicity determinants in economically important Paramoeba.
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