The revised Trypanosoma cruzi subspecific nomenclature: rationale, epidemiological relevance and research applications.

Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Professor Lineu Prestes 748, 05508-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Infection, genetics and evolution: journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases (Impact Factor: 3.22). 03/2012; 12(2):240-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.12.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, its mammalian reservoirs, and vectors have existed in nature for millions of years. The human infection, named Chagas disease, is a major public health problem for Latin America. T. cruzi is genetically highly diverse and the understanding of the population structure of this parasite is critical because of the links to transmission cycles and disease. At present, T. cruzi is partitioned into six discrete typing units (DTUs), TcI-TcVI. Here we focus on the current status of taxonomy-related areas such as population structure, phylogeographical and eco-epidemiological features, and the correlation of DTU with natural and experimental infection. We also summarize methods for DTU genotyping, available for widespread use in endemic areas. For the immediate future multilocus sequence typing is likely to be the gold standard for population studies. We conclude that greater advances in our knowledge on pathogenic and epidemiological features of these parasites are expected in the coming decade through the comparative analysis of the genomes from isolates of various DTUs.

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    ABSTRACT: Micropathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasitic protozoa) share a common trait, which is partial clonality, with wide variance in the respective influence of clonality and sexual recombination on the dynamics and evolution of taxa. The discrimination of distinct lineages and the reconstruction of their phylogenetic history are key information to infer their biomedical properties. However, the phylogenetic picture is often clouded by occasional events of recombination across divergent lineages, limiting the relevance of classical phylogenetic analysis and dichotomic trees. We have applied a network analysis based on graph theory to illustrate the relationships among genotypes of Trypanosoma cruzi , the parasitic protozoan responsible for Chagas disease, to identify major lineages and to unravel their past history of divergence and possible recombination events. At the scale of T. cruzi subspecific diversity, graph theory-based networks applied to 22 isoenzyme loci (262 distinct Multi-Locus-Enzyme-Electrophoresis -MLEE) and 19 microsatellite loci (66 Multi-Locus-Genotypes -MLG) fully confirms the high clustering of genotypes into major lineages or “near-clades”. The release of the dichotomic constraint associated with phylogenetic reconstruction usually applied to Multilocus data allows identifying putative hybrids and their parental lineages. Reticulate topology suggests a slightly different history for some of the main “near-clades”, and a possibly more complex origin for the putative hybrids than hitherto proposed. Finally the sub-network of the near-clade T. cruzi I (28 MLG) shows a clustering subdivision into three differentiated lesser near-clades (“Russian doll pattern”), which confirms the hypothesis recently proposed by other investigators. The present study broadens and clarifies the hypotheses previously obtained from classical markers on the same sets of data, which demonstrates the added value of this approach. This underlines the potential of graph theory-based network analysis for describing the nature and relationships of major pathogens, thereby opening stimulating prospects to unravel the organization, dynamics and history of major micropathogen lineages.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(8):e103213. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, an infection that afflicts approximately 8 million people in Latin America. Diagnosis of chronic Chagas disease is currently based on serological tests because this condition is usually characterized by high anti-T. cruzi IgG titers and low parasitemia. The antigens used in these assays may have low specificity due to cross reactivity with antigens from related parasite infections, such as leishmaniasis, and low sensitivity caused by the high polymorphism among T. cruzi strains. Therefore, the identification of new T. cruzi-specific antigens that are conserved among the various parasite discrete typing units (DTUs) is still required. In the present study, we have explored the hybrid nature of the T. cruzi CL Brener strain using a broad genome screening approach to select new T. cruzi antigens that are conserved among the different parasite DTUs and that are absent in other trypanosomatid species. Peptide arrays containing the conserved antigens with the highest epitope prediction scores were synthesized, and the reactivity of the peptides were tested by immunoblot using sera from C57BL/6 mice chronically infected with T. cruzi strains from the TcI, TcII or TcVI DTU. The two T. cruzi proteins that contained the most promising peptides were expressed as recombinant proteins and tested in ELISA experiments with sera from chagasic patients with distinct clinical manifestations: those infected with T. cruzi from different DTUs and those with cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis. These proteins, named rTc_11623.20 and rTc_N_10421.310, exhibited 94.83 and 89.66% sensitivity, 98.2 and 94.6% specificity, respectively, and a pool of these 2 proteins exhibited 96.55% sensitivity and 98.18% specificity. This work led to the identification of two new antigens with great potential application in the diagnosis of chronic Chagas disease.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e106304. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas disease possess extensive genetic diversity. This has led to the development of a plethora of molecular typing methods for the identification of both the known major genetic lineages and for more fine scale characterization of different multilocus genotypes within these major lineages. Whole genome sequencing applied to large sample sizes is not currently viable and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, the previous gold standard for T. cruzi typing, is laborious and time consuming. In the present work, we present an optimized Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) scheme, based on the combined analysis of two recently proposed MLST approaches. Here, thirteen concatenated gene fragments were applied to a panel of T. cruzi reference strains encompassing all known genetic lineages. Concatenation of 13 fragments allowed assignment of all strains to the predicted Discrete Typing Units (DTUs), or near-clades, with the exception of one strain that was an outlier for TcV, due to apparent loss of heterozygosity in one fragment. Monophyly for all DTUs, along with robust bootstrap support, was restored when this fragment was subsequently excluded from the analysis. All possible combinations of loci were assessed against predefined criteria with the objective of selecting the most appropriate combination of between two and twelve fragments, for an optimized MLST scheme. The optimum combination consisted of 7 loci and discriminated between all reference strains in the panel, with the majority supported by robust bootstrap values. Additionally, a reduced panel of just 4 gene fragments displayed high bootstrap values for DTU assignment and discriminated 21 out of 25 genotypes. We propose that the seven-fragment MLST scheme could be used as a gold standard for T. cruzi typing, against which other typing approaches, particularly single locus approaches or systematic PCR assays based on amplicon size, could be compared.
    PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 08/2014; 8(8):e3117.


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