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Adv Parasitol. 2011;75:209-30. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385863-4.00010-1.

The genome and its implications.

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Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Trypanosoma cruzi has a heterogeneous population composed of a pool of strains that circulate in the domestic and sylvatic cycles. Genome sequencing of the clone CL Brener revealed a highly repetitive genome of about 110Mb containing an estimated 22,570 genes. Because of its hybrid nature, sequences representing the two haplotypes have been generated. In addition, a repeat content close to 50% made the assembly of the estimated 41 pairs of chromosomes quite challenging. Similar to other trypanosomatids, the organization of T. cruzi chromosomes was found to be very peculiar, with protein-coding genes organized in long polycistronic transcription units encoding 20 or more proteins in one strand separated by strand switch regions. Another remarkable feature of the T. cruzi genome is the massive expansion of surface protein gene families. Because of the high genetic diversity of the T. cruzi population, sequencing of additional strains and comparative genomic and transcriptome analyses are in progress. Five years after its publication, the genome data have proven to be an essential tool for the study of T. cruzi and increasing efforts to translate this knowledge into the development of new modes of intervention to control Chagas disease are underway.

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