Logo of embojLink to Publisher's site
EMBO J. Dec 20, 1984; 3(13): 3109–3115.
PMCID: PMC557825

Chromosomes of kinetoplastida.


We have compared chromosome-sized DNA molecules (molecular karyotypes) of five genera (nine species) of kinetoplastida after cell lysis and deproteinization of DNA in agarose blocks and size fractionation of the intact DNA molecules by pulsed field gradient (PFG) gel electrophoresis. With the possible exception of Trypanosoma vivax and Crithidia fasciculata, all species have at least 20 chromosomes. There are large differences between species in molecular karyotype and in the chromosomal distribution of the genes for alpha- and beta-tubulin, rRNA and the common mini-exon sequence of kinetoplastid mRNAs. In all cases, the rRNA genes are in DNA that is larger than 500 kb. Whereas T. brucei has approximately 100 mini-chromosomes of 50-150 kb, only few are found in T. equiperdum; T. vivax has no DNA smaller than 2000 kb. As all three species exhibit antigenic variation, small chromosomes with telomeric variant surface glycoprotein genes cannot be vital to the mechanism of antigenic variation. The apparent plasticity of kinetoplastid genome composition makes PFG gel electrophoresis a potentially useful tool for taxonomic studies.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.8M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Barry JD, Crowe JS, Vickerman K. Instability of the Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense metacyclic variable antigen repertoire. Nature. 1983 Dec 15;306(5944):699–701. [PubMed]
  • Bernards A, Michels PA, Lincke CR, Borst P. Growth of chromosome ends in multiplying trypanosomes. Nature. 1983 Jun 16;303(5918):592–597. [PubMed]
  • Blackburn EH, Challoner PB. Identification of a telomeric DNA sequence in Trypanosoma brucei. Cell. 1984 Feb;36(2):447–457. [PubMed]
  • Blackburn EH, Budarf ML, Challoner PB, Cherry JM, Howard EA, Katzen AL, Pan WC, Ryan T. DNA termini in ciliate macronuclei. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 1983;47(Pt 2):1195–1207. [PubMed]
  • Borst P, Cross GA. Molecular basis for trypanosome antigenic variation. Cell. 1982 Jun;29(2):291–303. [PubMed]
  • Leon W, Frasch AC, Hoeijmakers JH, Fase-Fowler F, Borst P, Brunel F, Davison J. Maxi-circles and mini-circles in kinetoplast DNA from trypanosoma cruzi. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1980 Apr 30;607(2):221–231. [PubMed]
  • Borst P, Fase-Fowler F, Gibson WC. Quantitation of genetic differences between Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, rhodesiense and brucei by restriction enzyme analysis of kinetoplast DNA. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1981 Jun;3(2):117–131. [PubMed]
  • Borst P, van der Ploeg M, van Hoek JF, Tas J, James J. On the DNA content and ploidy of trypanosomes. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1982 Jul;6(1):13–23. [PubMed]
  • Borst P, Bernards A, van der Ploeg LH, Michels PA, Liu AY, de Lange T, Kooter JM. The control of variant surface antigen synthesis in trypanosomes. Eur J Biochem. 1983 Dec 15;137(3):383–389. [PubMed]
  • Brun R, Schönenberger Cultivation and in vitro cloning or procyclic culture forms of Trypanosoma brucei in a semi-defined medium. Short communication. Acta Trop. 1979 Sep;36(3):289–292. [PubMed]
  • Capbern A, Giroud C, Baltz T, Mattern P. Trypanosoma equiperdum: etude des variations antigéniques au cours de la trypanosomose experimentale du lapin. Exp Parasitol. 1977 Jun;42(1):6–13. [PubMed]
  • Coderre JA, Beverley SM, Schimke RT, Santi DV. Overproduction of a bifunctional thymidylate synthetase-dihydrofolate reductase and DNA amplification in methotrexate-resistant Leishmania tropica. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Apr;80(8):2132–2136. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Cross GA. Identification, purification and properties of clone-specific glycoprotein antigens constituting the surface coat of Trypanosoma brucei. Parasitology. 1975 Dec;71(3):393–417. [PubMed]
  • Cross GA. Antigenic variation in trypanosomes. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1978 Jun 5;202(1146):55–72. [PubMed]
  • Cunningham I. New culture medium for maintenance of tsetse tissues and growth of trypanosomatids. J Protozool. 1977 May;24(2):325–329. [PubMed]
  • De Lange T, Liu AY, Van der Ploeg LH, Borst P, Tromp MC, Van Boom JH. Tandem repetition of the 5' mini-exon of variant surface glycoprotein genes: a multiple promoter for VSG gene transcription? Cell. 1983 Oct;34(3):891–900. [PubMed]
  • De Lange T, Michels PA, Veerman HJ, Cornelissen AW, Borst P. Many trypanosome messenger RNAs share a common 5' terminal sequence. Nucleic Acids Res. 1984 May 11;12(9):3777–3790. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • De Lange T, Berkvens TM, Veerman HJ, Frasch AC, Barry JD, Borst P. Comparison of the genes coding for the common 5' terminal sequence of messenger RNAs in three trypanosome species. Nucleic Acids Res. 1984 Jun 11;12(11):4431–4443. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Fairlamb AH, Weislogel PO, Hoeijmakers JH, Borst P. Isolation and characterization of kinetoplast DNA from bloodstream form of Trypanosoma brucei. J Cell Biol. 1978 Feb;76(2):293–309. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Frasch AC, Borst P, Van den Burg J. Rapid evolution of genes coding for variant surface glycoproteins in trypanosomes. Gene. 1982 Feb;17(2):197–211. [PubMed]
  • Hajduk SL, Cosgrove WB. Kinetoplast DNA from normal and dyskinetoplastic strains of Trypanosoma equiperdum. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1979 Jan 26;561(1):1–9. [PubMed]
  • Hasan G, Turner MJ, Cordingley JS. Ribosomal RNA genes of Trypanosoma brucei. Cloning of a rRNA gene containing a mobile element. Nucleic Acids Res. 1982 Nov 11;10(21):6747–6761. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hasan G, Turner MJ, Cordingley JS. Ribosomal RNA genes of Trypanosoma brucei: mapping the regions specifying the six small ribosomal RNAs. Gene. 1984 Jan;27(1):75–86. [PubMed]
  • Emery HS, Weiner AM. An irregular satellite sequence is found at the termini of the linear extrachromosomal rDNA in Dictyostelium discoideum. Cell. 1981 Nov;26(3 Pt 1):411–419. [PubMed]
  • Hoeijmakers JH, Frasch AC, Bernards A, Borst P, Cross GA. Novel expression-linked copies of the genes for variant surface antigens in trypanosomes. Nature. 1980 Mar 6;284(5751):78–80. [PubMed]
  • Huang PL, Roberts BE, Pratt DM, David JR, Miller JS. Structure and arrangement of the beta-tubulin genes of Leishmania tropica. Mol Cell Biol. 1984 Jul;4(7):1372–1383. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Jeffreys AJ, Flavell RA. A physical map of the DNA regions flanking the rabbit beta-globin gene. Cell. 1977 Oct;12(2):429–439. [PubMed]
  • Landfear SM, McMahon-Pratt D, Wirth DF. Tandem arrangement of tubulin genes in the protozoan parasite Leishmania enriettii. Mol Cell Biol. 1983 Jun;3(6):1070–1076. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Leeflang P, Buys J, Blotkamp C. Studies on Trypanosoma vivax: infectivity and serial maintenance of natural bovine isolates in mice. Int J Parasitol. 1976 Oct;6(5):413–417. [PubMed]
  • Michels PA, Van der Ploeg LH, Liu AY, Borst P. The inactivation and reactivation of an expression-linked gene copy for a variant surface glycoprotein in Trypanosoma brucei. EMBO J. 1984 Jun;3(6):1345–1351. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Murray AW, Szostak JW. Construction of artificial chromosomes in yeast. Nature. 1983 Sep 15;305(5931):189–193. [PubMed]
  • Nelson RG, Parsons M, Barr PJ, Stuart K, Selkirk M, Agabian N. Sequences homologous to the variant antigen mRNA spliced leader are located in tandem repeats and variable orphons in trypanosoma brucei. Cell. 1983 Oct;34(3):901–909. [PubMed]
  • Nelson RG, Parsons M, Selkirk M, Newport G, Barr PJ, Agabian N. Sequences homologous to variant antigen mRNA spliced leader in Trypanosomatidae which do not undergo antigenic variation. Nature. 1984 Apr 12;308(5960):665–667. [PubMed]
  • Pays E, Delauw MF, Van Assel S, Laurent M, Vervoort T, Van Meirvenne N, Steinert M. Modifications of a Trypanosoma b. brucei antigen gene repertoire by different DNA recombinational mechanisms. Cell. 1983 Dec;35(3 Pt 2):721–731. [PubMed]
  • Rigby PW, Dieckmann M, Rhodes C, Berg P. Labeling deoxyribonucleic acid to high specific activity in vitro by nick translation with DNA polymerase I. J Mol Biol. 1977 Jun 15;113(1):237–251. [PubMed]
  • Rogers WE, Wallace FG. Two new subspecies of Herpetomonas muscarum (Leidy, 1856) Kent, 1880. J Protozool. 1971 Nov;18(4):645–654. [PubMed]
  • Schwartz DC, Cantor CR. Separation of yeast chromosome-sized DNAs by pulsed field gradient gel electrophoresis. Cell. 1984 May;37(1):67–75. [PubMed]
  • Schwartz DC, Saffran W, Welsh J, Haas R, Goldenberg M, Cantor CR. New techniques for purifying large DNAs and studying their properties and packaging. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 1983;47(Pt 1):189–195. [PubMed]
  • Seebeck T, Whittaker PA, Imboden MA, Hardman N, Braun R. Tubulin genes of Trypanosoma brucei: a tightly clustered family of alternating genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Aug;80(15):4634–4638. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sloof P, Bos JL, Konings AF, Menke HH, Borst P, Gutteridge WE, Leon W. Characterization of satellite DNA in Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma cruzi. J Mol Biol. 1983 Jun 15;167(1):1–21. [PubMed]
  • Sloof P, Menke HH, Caspers MP, Borst P. Size fractionation of Trypanosoma brucei DNA: localization of the 177-bp repeat satellite DNA and a variant surface glycoprotein gene in a mini-chromosomal DNA fraction. Nucleic Acids Res. 1983 Jun 25;11(12):3889–3901. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Smith HO. Recovery of DNA from gels. Methods Enzymol. 1980;65(1):371–380. [PubMed]
  • Solari AJ. The spatial relationship of the X and Y chromosomes during meiotic prophase in mouse spermatocytes. Chromosoma. 1970;29(2):217–236. [PubMed]
  • Solari AJ. Function of the dense plaques during mitosis in Trypanosoma cruzi. Exp Cell Res. 1980 Jun;127(2):457–460. [PubMed]
  • Solari AJ. The ultrastructure of mitotic nuclei of Blastocrithidia triatomae. Z Parasitenkd. 1983;69(1):3–15. [PubMed]
  • Southern EM. Detection of specific sequences among DNA fragments separated by gel electrophoresis. J Mol Biol. 1975 Nov 5;98(3):503–517. [PubMed]
  • Tait A. Evidence for diploidy and mating in trypanosomes. Nature. 1980 Oct 9;287(5782):536–538. [PubMed]
  • Thomashow LS, Milhausen M, Rutter WJ, Agabian N. Tubulin genes are tandemly linked and clustered in the genome of trypanosoma brucei. Cell. 1983 Jan;32(1):35–43. [PubMed]
  • Van der Ploeg LH, Valerio D, De Lange T, Bernards A, Borst P, Grosveld FG. An analysis of cosmid clones of nuclear DNA from Trypanosoma brucei shows that the genes for variant surface glycoproteins are clustered in the genome. Nucleic Acids Res. 1982 Oct 11;10(19):5905–5923. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Van der Ploeg LH, Schwartz DC, Cantor CR, Borst P. Antigenic variation in Trypanosoma brucei analyzed by electrophoretic separation of chromosome-sized DNA molecules. Cell. 1984 May;37(1):77–84. [PubMed]
  • Van der Ploeg LH, Cornelissen AW, Michels PA, Borst P. Chromosome rearrangements in Trypanosoma brucei. Cell. 1984 Nov;39(1):213–221. [PubMed]
  • Van der Ploeg LH, Liu AY, Borst P. Structure of the growing telomeres of Trypanosomes. Cell. 1984 Feb;36(2):459–468. [PubMed]
  • Vickerman K. Antigenic variation in trypanosomes. Nature. 1978 Jun 22;273(5664):613–617. [PubMed]
  • Vickerman K, Preston TM. Spindle microtubules in the dividing nuclei of trypanosomes. J Cell Sci. 1970 Mar;6(2):365–383. [PubMed]
  • Weinman D. Trypanosoma cyclops n. sp.: a pigmented trypanosome from the Malaysian primates Macaca nemestrina and M. ira. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1972;66(4):628–636. [PubMed]

Articles from The EMBO Journal are provided here courtesy of The European Molecular Biology Organization


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...