Functionally and morphologically degenerate mitochondria, so-called mitochondrion-related organelles (MROs), are frequently found in eukaryotes inhabiting hypoxic or anoxic environments. In the last decade, MROs have been discovered from a phylogenetically broad range of eukaryotic lineages and these organelles have been revealed to possess diverse metabolic capacities. In this study, the biochemical characteristics of an MRO in the free-living anaerobic protist Cantina marsupialis, which represents an independent lineage in stramenopiles, were inferred based on RNA-seq data. We found transcripts for proteins known to function in one form of MROs, the hydrogenosome, such as pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase, iron-hydrogenase, acetate:succinate CoA-transferase, and succinyl-CoA synthase, along with transcripts for acetyl-CoA synthetase (ADP-forming). These proteins possess putative mitochondrial targeting signals at their N-termini, suggesting dual ATP generation systems through anaerobic pyruvate metabolism in Cantina MROs. In addition, MROs in Cantina were also shown to share several features with canonical mitochondria, including amino acid metabolism and an "incomplete" tricarboxylic acid cycle. Transcripts for all four subunits of complex II (CII) of the electron transport chain were detected, while there was no evidence for the presence of complexes I, III, IV, or F1Fo ATPase. Cantina MRO biochemistry challenges the categories of mitochondrial organelles recently proposed.
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