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A mitosome is an organelle found in some unicellular eukaryotic organisms. The mitosome has only recently been found and named,[1] and its function has not yet been well characterized. It is sometimes termed a crypton.

The mitosome has been detected only in anaerobic or microaerophilic organisms which do not have mitochondria. These organisms do not have the capability of gaining energy from oxidation, which is normally performed by mitochondria. The mitosome was first described in Entamoeba histolytica, an intestinal parasite of humans.[1][2] Mitosomes have also been identified in several species of Microsporidia[3][4] and in Giardia intestinalis[5].

Mitosomes are almost certainly derived from mitochondria. Like mitochondria, they have a double-wall membrane,[4] and proteins are delivered to them by a targeting sequence of amino acids.[1] The targeting sequence is very similar to that used for mitochondria, and in fact the mitochondria form of sequence will function for mitosomes.[1] A number of proteins associated with mitosomes have been shown to be closely related to those of mitochondria.[2]

Unlike mitochondria, mitosomes do not have genes within them. The genes for mitosomal components are contained in the nuclear genome.[1] An early report suggested the presence of DNA in this organelle,[6] but more recent research has shown this not to be the case.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Tovar, J., Fischer, A. & Clark, C. G. (1999). The mitosome, a novel organelle related to mitochondria in the amitochondrial parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Molecular Microbiology 32, 1013–1021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bakatselou, C., Beste, D., Kadri, A. O., Somanath, S. & Clark, C. G. (2003). Analysis of genes of mitochondrial origin in the genus Entamoeba. J. Eukaryotic Microbiology 50, 210–214.
  3. Vivares, C. P. (2002). Functional and evolutionary analysis of a eukaryotic parasitic genome. Current Opinion in Microbiology 5(5):499-505.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Vavra, J. (2005) “Polar vesicles” of microsporidia are mitochondrial remnants (“mitosomes”). Folia Parasitology 52(1-2):193-5.
  5. Regoes A, et al. (2005). Protein import, replication, and inheritance of a vestigial mitochondrion. J. Biological Chemistry 2005 Aug 26 280(34):30557-63.
  6. Ghosh, S., Field, J., Rogers, R., Hickman, M. & Samuelson, J. (2000). The Entamoeba histolytica mitochondrion-derived organelle (crypton) contains double-stranded DNA and appears to be bound by a double membrane. Infectious Immunology 68, 4319–4322.
  7. Leon-Avila, G. & Tovar, J. (2004). Mitosomes of Entamoeba histolytica are abundant mitochondrion-related remnant organelles that lack a detectable organellar genome. Microbiology 150, 1245–1250.