Euglena gracilis lacks a catalase and contains a single APX (ascorbate peroxidase) and enzymes related to the redox cycle of ascorbate in the cytosol. In the present study, a full-length cDNA clone encoding the Euglena APX was isolated and found to contain an open reading frame encoding a protein of 649 amino acids with a calculated molecular mass of 70.5 kDa. Interestingly, the enzyme consisted of two entirely homologous catalytic domains, designated APX-N and APX-C, and an 102 amino acid extension in the N-terminal region, which had a typical class II signal proposed for plastid targeting in Euglena. A computer-assisted analysis indicated a novel protein structure with an intramolecular dimeric structure. The analysis of cell fractionation showed that the APX protein is distributed in the cytosol, but not the plastids, suggesting that Euglena APX becomes mature in the cytosol after processing of the precursor. The kinetics of the recombinant mature FL (full-length)-APX and the APX-N and APX-C domains with ascorbate and H2O2 were almost the same as that of the native enzyme. However, the substrate specificity of the mature FL-APX and the native enzyme was different from that of APX-N and APX-C. The mature FL-APX, but not the truncated forms, could reduce alkyl hydroperoxides, suggesting that the dimeric structure is correlated with substrate recognition. In Euglena cells transfected with double-stranded RNA, the silencing of APX expression resulted in a significant increase in the cellular level of H2O2, indicating the physiological importance of APX to the metabolism of H2O2.

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