Enzymatic Antioxidant Systems in Early Anaerobes: Theoretical Considerations
Ireneusz et al
It is widely accepted that cyanobacteria-dependent oxygen that was released into Earth's atmosphere ca. 2.5 billion years ago sparked the evolution of the aerobic metabolism and the antioxidant system. In modern aerobes, enzymes such as superoxide dismutases (SODs), peroxiredoxins (PXs), and catalases (CATs) constitute the core of the enzymatic antioxidant system (EAS) directed against reactive oxygen species (ROS). In many anaerobic prokaryotes, the superoxide reductases (SORs) have been identified as the main force in counteracting ROS toxicity. We found that 93% of the analyzed strict anaerobes possess at least one antioxidant enzyme, and 50% have a functional EAS, that is, consisting of at least two antioxidant enzymes: one for superoxide anion radical detoxification and another for hydrogen peroxide decomposition. The results presented here suggest that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) was not a strict anaerobe. O2 could have been available for the first microorganisms before oxygenic photosynthesis evolved, however, from the intrinsic activity of EAS, not solely from abiotic sources.