Giardia intestinalis escapes oxidative stress by colonizing the small intestine: A molecular hypothesis

Daniela Mastronicola, Alessandro Giuffrè, Fabrizio Testa, Antonella Mura, Elena Forte, Eugenio Bordi, Leopoldo Paolo Pucillo, Pier Luigi Fiori, Paolo Sarti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Giardia intestinalis is the microaerophilic protozoon causing giardiasis, a common infectious intestinal disease. Giardia possesses an O 2-scavenging activity likely essential for survival in the host. We report that Giardia trophozoites express the O2-detoxifying flavodiiron protein (FDP), detected by immunoblotting, and are able to reduce O2 to H2O rapidly (∼3 μM O2 × min × 106 cells at 37 °C) and with high affinity (C 50 = 3.4 ± 0.7 μM O2). Following a short-term (minutes) exposure to H2O2 ≥ 100 μM, the O 2 consumption by the parasites is irreversibly impaired, and the FDP undergoes a degradation, prevented by the proteasome-inhibitor MG132. Instead, H2O2 does not cause degradation or inactivation of the isolated FDP. On the basis of the elevated susceptibility of Giardia to oxidative stress, we hypothesize that the parasite preferentially colonizes the small intestine since, compared with colon, it is characterized by a greater capacity for redox buffering and a lower propensity to oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalIUBMB Life
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • cell proteolysis
  • detoxifying enzyme
  • flavoprotein
  • O-consumption
  • oxidative stress
  • protozoan pathogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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