Protozoa play host for many intracellular bacteria and are important for the adaptation of pathogenic bacteria to eukaryotic cells. We analyzed the genome sequence of “
Amoebophilus asiaticus,” an obligate intracellular amoeba symbiont belonging to the
. The genome has a size of 1.89 Mbp, encodes 1,557 proteins, and shows massive proliferation of IS elements (24% of all genes), although the genome seems to be evolutionarily relatively stable. The genome does not encode pathways for
biosynthesis of cofactors, nucleotides, and almost all amino acids. “
. Amoebophilus asiaticus” encodes a variety of proteins with predicted importance for host cell interaction; in particular, an arsenal of proteins with eukaryotic domains, including ankyrin-, TPR/SEL1-, and leucine-rich repeats, which is hitherto unmatched among prokaryotes, is remarkable. Unexpectedly, 26 proteins that can interfere with the host ubiquitin system were identified in the genome. These proteins include F- and U-box domain proteins and two ubiquitin-specific proteases of the CA clan C19 family, representing the first prokaryotic members of this protein family. Consequently, interference with the host ubiquitin system is an important host cell interaction mechanism of “
. Amoebophilus asiaticus”. More generally, we show that the eukaryotic domains identified in “
. Amoebophilus asiaticus” are also significantly enriched in the genomes of other amoeba-associated bacteria (including chlamydiae,
). This indicates that phylogenetically and ecologically diverse bacteria which thrive inside amoebae exploit common mechanisms for interaction with their hosts, and it provides further evidence for the role of amoebae as training grounds for bacterial pathogens of humans.
is a giant, colonial marine ciliate from sulfide-rich habitats obligatorily covered with chemoautotrophic, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria which appear as coccoid rods and rods with a series of intermediate shapes. Comparative 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that the ectosymbiont of
belongs to only one pleomorphic phylotype. The
ectosymbiont is only moderately related to previously identified groups of thiotrophic symbionts within the
, and shows highest 16S rRNA sequence similarity with the free-living sulfur-oxidizing bacterial strain ODIII6 from shallow-water hydrothermal vents of the Mediterranean Sea (94.5%) and an endosymbiont from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod of the Indian Ocean Ridge (93.1%). A replacement of this specific ectosymbiont by a variety of other bacteria was observed only for senescent basal parts of the host colonies. The taxonomic status “
Thiobios zoothamnicoli” is proposed for the ectosymbiont of
based on its ultrastructure, its 16S rRNA gene, the intergenic spacer region, and its partial 23S rRNA gene sequence.