Two superoxide dismutases (SOD I and SOD II) were purified from Acanthamoeba castellanii and characterized for several biochemical properties. Analysis of the primary structure and inhibition studies revealed that SOD I is iron SOD (Fe-SOD), with a molecular mass of 50 kDa, and SOD II is copper–zinc SOD (Cu,Zn-SOD), with a molecular mass of 38 kDa. Both enzymes have a homodimeric structure consisting of 2 identical subunits, each with a molecular mass of 26 and 19 kDa for SOD I and SOD II, respectively. The isoelectric points of SOD I and SOD II were 6.4 and 3.5, respectively, and there were no isoenzyme forms detected. Both enzymes show a broad optimal pH of 7.0–11.0. Because no differences were observed in the apparent molecular weight of SOD I after addition of the reducing agent 2-mercaptoethanol, the subunits do not appear to be linked covalently by disulfide bonds. However, the subunits of SOD II were covalently linked by intra- and interdisulfide bonds. Western blot analyses showed that the 2 enzymes have different antigenicity. Both enzymes occur as cytoplasmic and detergent-extractable fractions. These enzymes may be potential virulence factors of A. castellanii by acting both as antioxidants and antiinflammatory agents. These enzymes may be attractive targets for chemotherapy and immunodiagnosis of acanthamoebiasis.

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