The surface coat of the mammal-dwelling infective trypomastigote stage of Trypanosoma cruzi is formed by highly diverse immunogenic mucins

Carlos A . Buscaglia, Vanina A. Campo, Javier M. Di Noia, Ana C. T. Torrecilhas, Claudia R. De Marchi, Michael A. J. Ferguson, Alberto C. C. Frasch, Igor C. Almeida

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    A thick coat of mucin-like glycoproteins covers the surface of Trypanosoma cruzi and plays a crucial role in parasite protection and infectivity and host immuno-modulation. The appealing candidate genes coding for the mucins of the mammal-dwelling stages define a heterogeneous family termed TcMUC, which comprises up to 700 members, thus precluding a genetic approach to address the protein core identity. Here, we demonstrate by multiple approaches that the TcMUC II genes code for the majority of trypomastigote mucins. These molecules display a variable, non-repetitive, highly O-glycosylated central domain, followed by a short conserved C terminus and a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor. A simultaneous expression of multiple TcMUC II gene products was observed. Moreover, the C terminus of TcMUC II mucins, but not their central domain, elicited strong antibody responses in patients with Chagas' disease and T. crusi infected animals. This highly diverse coat of mucins may represent a refined parasite strategy to elude the mammalian host immune system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15860-15869
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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