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November 2014


Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease, is a complex of genetically diverse isolates highly phylogenetically related to T. cruzi-like species, Trypanosoma cruzi marinkellei andTrypanosoma dionisii, all sharing morphology of blood and culture forms and development within cells. However, they differ in hosts, vectors and pathogenicity: T. cruzi is a human pathogen infective to virtually all mammals whilst the other two species are non-pathogenic and bat restricted. Previous studies suggest that variations in expression levels and genetic diversity of cruzipain, the major isoform of cathepsin L-like (CATL) enzymes of T. cruzi, correlate with levels of cellular invasion, differentiation, virulence and pathogenicity of distinct strains. In this study, we compared 80 sequences of genes encoding cruzipain from 25 T. cruzi isolates representative of all discrete typing units (DTUs TcI-TcVI) and the new genotype Tcbat and 10 sequences of homologous genes from other species. The catalytic domain repertoires diverged according to DTUs and trypanosome species. Relatively homogeneous sequences are found within and among isolates of the same DTU except TcV and TcVI, which displayed sequences unique or identical to those of TcII and TcIII, supporting their origin from the hybridization between these two DTUs. In network genealogies, sequences from T. cruziclustered tightly together and closer to T. c. marinkellei than to T. dionisii and largely differed from homologues of T. rangeli and T. b. brucei. Here, analysis of isolates representative of the overall biological and genetic diversity of T. cruzi and closest T. cruzi-like species evidenced DTU- and species-specific polymorphisms corroborating phylogenetic relationships inferred with other genes. Comparison of both phylogenetically close and distant trypanosomes is valuable to understand host-parasite interactions, virulence and pathogenicity. Our findings corroborate cruzipain as valuable target for drugs, vaccine, diagnostic and genotyping approaches.


Copyright: © 2012 Lima et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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VCU Microbiology and Immunology Publications