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Parasit Vectors. 2012 Aug 7;5:161. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-5-161.

Molecular characterization of the hexose transporter gene in benznidazole resistant and susceptible populations of Trypanosoma cruzi.

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  • 1Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou/FIOCRUZ, Avenida Augusto de Lima 1715, Belo Horizonte, 30190-002, MG, Brazil.



Hexose transporters (HT) are membrane proteins involved in the uptake of energy-supplying glucose and other hexoses into the cell. Previous studies employing the Differential Display technique have shown that the transcription level of the HT gene from T. cruzi (TcrHT) is higher in an in vitro-induced benznidazole (BZ)-resistant population of the parasite (17 LER) than in its susceptible counterpart (17 WTS).


In the present study, TcrHT has been characterized in populations and strains of T. cruzi that are resistant or susceptible to BZ. We investigated the copy number and chromosomal location of the gene, the levels of TcrHT mRNA and of TcrHT activity, and the phylogenetic relationship between TcrHT and HTs from other organisms.


In silico analyses revealed that 15 sequences of the TcrHT gene are present in the T. cruzi genome, considering both CL Brener haplotypes. Southern blot analyses confirmed that the gene is present as a multicopy tandem array and indicated a nucleotide sequence polymorphism associated to T. cruzi group I or II. Karyotype analyses revealed that TcrHT is located in two chromosomal bands varying in size from 1.85 to 2.6 Mb depending on the strain of T. cruzi. The sequence of amino acids in the HT from T. cruzi is closely related to the HT sequences of Leishmania species according to phylogenetic analysis. Northern blot and quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analyses revealed that TcrHT transcripts are 2.6-fold higher in the resistant 17 LER population than in the susceptible 17 WTS. Interestingly, the hexose transporter activity was 40% lower in the 17 LER population than in all other T. cruzi samples analyzed. This phenotype was detected only in the in vitro-induced BZ resistant population, but not in the in vivo-selected or naturally BZ resistant T. cruzi samples. Sequencing analysis revealed that the amino acid sequences of the TcrHT from 17WTS and 17LER populations are identical. This result suggests that the difference in glucose transport between 17WTS and 17LER populations is not due to point mutations, but probably due to lower protein expression level.


The BZ resistant population 17 LER presents a decrease in glucose uptake in response to drug pressure.

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