Alpha-glucosidases from Non-hematophagous Organisms Crystallize Heme in Vitro

Alpha-glucosidases from Non-hematophagous Organisms Crystallize Heme in Vitro

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Author(s): Marilvia Dansa de Alencar, Lígia Souza Ferreira, Gabriela Calegário, Flávia Borges Mury

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DOI: 10.18483/ijSci.791 343 1029 24-33 Volume 4 - Aug 2015


Hemozoin (Hz), a heme crystal first known as a malaria pigment, reduces heme toxicity to hematophagous organisms such as protozoans, worms, and insects. The mechanism of Hz synthesis remains poorly understood, but studies on the blood-sucking insect Rhodnius prolixus indicate the involvement of an α-glucosidase enzyme. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that α-glucosidases from other organisms also have the ability to form Hz in vitro. This hypothesis was tested using protein extracts from non-hematophagous insects and non-insect organisms. Our results indicate that protein extracts from several sources have the potential to crystallize heme in vitro. This activity is likely associated with α-glucosidases. Thus, these enzymes seem to have the secondary capacity of detoxifying heme even in nonhematophagous organisms. This latent function may represent a crucial pre-adaptive evolutionary step in the adoption of hematophagy in hemoparasites.


Hemozoin, glycoside-hydrolases, heme biocrystallization


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