Under axenic growth conditions, trophozoites of Entamoeba histolytica contain heterogenous amounts of DNA due to the presence of both multiple nuclei and different amounts of DNA in individual nuclei. In order to establish if the DNA content and the observed heterogeneity is maintained during different growth conditions, we have compared E. histolytica cells growing in xenic and axenic cultures. Our results show that the nuclear DNA content of E. histolytica trophozoites growing in axenic cultures is at least 10 fold higher than in xenic cultures. Re-association of axenic cultures with their bacterial flora led to a reduction of DNA content to the original xenic values. Thus switching between xenic and axenic growth conditions was accompanied by significant changes in the nuclear DNA content of this parasite. Changes in DNA content during encystation-excystation were studied in the related reptilian parasite E. invadens. During excystation of E. invadens cysts, it was observed that the nuclear DNA content increased approximately 40 fold following emergence of trophozoites in axenic cultures. Based on the observed large changes in nuclear size and DNA content, and the minor differences in relative abundance of representative protein coding sequences, rDNA and tRNA sequences, it appears that gain or loss of whole genome copies may be occurring during changes in the growth conditions. Our studies demonstrate the inherent plasticity and dynamic nature of the Entamoeba genome in at least two species.
Mukherjee, C., Clark, C. G., & Lohia, A. (2008). Entamoeba shows reversible variation in ploidy under different growth conditions and between life cycle phases. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000281