Prokaryotic ancestry and gene fusion of a dual localized peroxiredoxin in malaria parasites.
Horizontal gene transfer has emerged as a crucial driving force for the evolution of eukaryotes. This also includes Plasmodium falciparum and related economically and clinically relevant apicomplexan parasites, whose rather small genomes have been shaped not only by natural selection in different host populations but also by horizontal gene transfer following endosymbiosis. However, there is rather little reliable data on horizontal gene transfer between animal hosts or bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. Here we show that apicomplexan homologues of peroxiredoxin 5 (Prx5) have a prokaryotic ancestry and therefore represent a special subclass of Prx5 isoforms in eukaryotes. Using two different immunobiochemical approaches, we found that the P. falciparum Prx5 homologue is dually localized to the parasite plastid and cytosol. This dual localization is reflected by a modular Plasmodium-specific gene architecture consisting of two exons. Despite the plastid localization, our phylogenetic analyses contradict an acquisition by secondary endosymbiosis and support a gene fusion event following a horizontal prokaryote-to-eukaryote gene transfer in early apicomplexans. The results provide unexpected insights into the evolution of apicomplexan parasites as well as the molecular evolution of peroxiredoxins, an important family of ubiquitous, usually highly concentrated thiol-dependent hydroperoxidases that exert functions as detoxifying enzymes, redox sensors and chaperones.