Rewiring and regulation of cross-compartmentalized metabolism in protists

Michael L. Ginger, Geoffrey I. McFadden, Paul A.M. Michels

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Plastid acquisition, endosymbiotic associations, lateral gene transfer, organelle degeneracy or even organelle loss influence metabolic capabilities in many different protists. Thus, metabolic diversity is sculpted through the gain of new metabolic functions and moderation or loss of pathways that are often essential in the majority of eukaryotes. What is perhaps less apparent to the casual observer is that the sub-compartmentalization of ubiquitous pathways has been repeatedly remodelled during eukaryotic evolution, and the textbook pictures of intermediary metabolism established for animals, yeast and plants are not conserved in many protists. Moreover, metabolic remodelling can strongly influence the regulatory mechanisms that control carbon flux through the major metabolic pathways. Here, we provide an overview of how core metabolism has been reorganized in various unicellular eukaryotes, focusing in particular on one near universal catabolic pathway (glycolysis) and one ancient anabolic pathway (isoprenoid biosynthesis). For the example of isoprenoid biosynthesis, the compartmentalization of this process in protists often appears to have been influenced by plastid acquisition and loss, whereas for glycolysis several unexpected modes of compartmentalization have emerged. Significantly, the example of trypanosomatid glycolysis illustrates nicely how mathematical modelling and systems biology can be used to uncover or understand novel modes of pathway regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-845
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1541
Early online date2 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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