Genomic variation of Trypanosoma cruzi: Involvement of multicopy genes

W. Wagner, M. So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


By using improved pulsed field gel conditions, the karyotypes of several strains of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi were analyzed and compared with those of Leishmania major and two other members of the genus Trypanosoma. There was no difference in chromosome migration patterns between different life cycle stages of the T. cruzi strains analyzed. However, the sizes and numbers of chromosomal bands varied considerably among T. cruzi strains. This karyotype variation among T. cruzi strains was analyzed further at the chromosomal level by using multicopy genes as probes in Southern hybridizations. The chromosomal location of the genes encoding α- and β-tubulin, ubiquitin, rRNA, spliced leader RNA, and an 85-kilodalton protein remained stable during developmental conversion of the parasite. The sizes and numbers of chromosomes containing these sequences varied among the different strains analyzed, implying multiple rearrangements of these genes during evolution of the parasites. During continuous in vitro cultivation of T. cruzi Y, the chromosomal location of the spliced leader gene shifted spontaneously. The spliced leader gene encodes a 35-nucleotide RNA that is spliced in trans from a 105-nucleotide donor RNA onto all mRNAs in T. cruzi. The spliced leader sequences changed in their physical location in both the cloned and uncloned Y strains. Associated with the complex changes was an increase in the infectivity of the rearranged variant for tissue culture cells. Our results indicate that the spliced leader gene clusters in T. cruzi undergo high-frequency genomic rearrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3217-3224
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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