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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040614. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Thrombospondin-1 interacts with Trypanosoma cruzi surface calreticulin to enhance cellular infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.


Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease, which is a neglected tropical disease that produces severe pathology and mortality. The mechanisms by which the parasite invades cells are not well elucidated. We recently reported that T. cruzi up-regulates the expression of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) to enhance the process of cellular invasion. Here we characterize a novel TSP-1 interaction with T. cruzi that enhances cellular infection. We show that labeled TSP-1 interacts specifically with the surface of T. cruzi trypomastigotes. We used TSP-1 to pull down interacting parasite surface proteins that were identified by mass spectrometry. We also show that full length TSP-1 and the N-terminal domain of TSP-1 (NTSP) interact with T. cruzi surface calreticulin (TcCRT) and other surface proteins. Pre-exposure of recombinant NTSP or TSP-1 to T. cruzi significantly enhances cellular infection of wild type mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) compared to the C-terminal domain of TSP-1, E3T3C1. In addition, blocking TcCRT with antibodies significantly inhibits the enhancement of cellular infection mediated by the TcCRT-TSP-1 interaction. Taken together, our findings indicate that TSP-1 interacts with TcCRT on the surface of T. cruzi through the NTSP domain and that this interaction enhances cellular infection. Thus surface TcCRT is a virulent factor that enhances the pathogenesis of T. cruzi infection through TSP-1, which is up-regulated by the parasite.

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