Christian M Probst

Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, New Jersey, United States

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Publications (40)105.58 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, alternates between distinct morphological and functional forms during its life cycle. Axenic multiplication and differentiation processes of this protozoan parasite can be reproduced in vitro, enabling the isolation and study of the different evolutionary forms. Although there are several publications attempting the cultivation of T. cruzi under chemically defined conditions, in our experience none of the published media are capable of maintaining T. cruzi in continuous growth.ResultsIn this work we modified a known chemically defined medium for Trypanosoma brucei growth. The resulting LM14 and LM14B defined media enabled cultivation of five different strains of T. cruzi for more than forty passages until now. The parasite¿s biological characteristics such as morphology and differentiation to metacyclic trypomastigotes were maintained when defined media is used.Conclusions The establishment of a defined medium for T. cruzi cultivation is an important tool for basic biological research allowing several different approaches, providing new perspectives for further studies related to cell biology of this parasite.
    BMC Microbiology 09/2014; 14(1):238. · 3.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The STINGRAY system has been conceived to ease the tasks of integrating, analyzing, annotating and presenting genomic and expression data from Sanger and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platforms. STINGRAY includes: (a) a complete and integrated workflow (more than 20 bioinformatics tools) ranging from functional annotation to phylogeny; (b) a MySQL database schema, suitable for data integration and user access control; and (c) a user-friendly graphical web-based interface that makes the system intuitive, facilitating the tasks of data analysis and annotation. STINGRAY showed to be an easy to use and complete system for analyzing sequencing data. While both Sanger and NGS platforms are supported, the system could be faster using Sanger data, since the large NGS datasets could potentially slow down the MySQL database usage. STINGRAY is available at http://stingray.biowebdb.org and the open source code at http://sourceforge.net/projects/stingray-biowebdb/.
    BMC Research Notes 03/2014; 7(1):132.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Simian malaria is still an open question concerning the species of Plasmodium parasites and species of New World monkeys susceptible to the parasites. In addition, the lingering question as to whether these animals are reservoirs for human malaria might become important especially in a scenario of eradication of the disease. To aid in the answers to these questions, monkeys were surveyed for malaria parasite natural infection in the Amazonian state of Rondônia, Brazil, a state with intense environmental alterations due to human activities, which facilitated sampling of the animals. METHODS: Parasites were detected and identified in DNA from blood of monkeys, by PCR with primers for the 18S rRNA, CSP and MSP1 genes and sequencing of the amplified fragments. Multiplex PCR primers for the 18S rRNA genes were designed for the parasite species Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae/Plasmodium brasilianum and Plasmodium simium. RESULTS: An overall infection rate of 10.9% was observed or 20 out 184 monkey specimens surveyed, mostly by P. brasilianum. However, four specimens of monkeys were found infected with P. falciparum, two of them doubly infected with P. brasilianum and P. falciparum. In addition, a species of monkey of the family Aotidae, Aotus nigriceps, is firstly reported here naturally infected with P. brasilianum. None of the monkeys surveyed was found infected with P. simium/P. vivax. CONCLUSION: The rate of natural Plasmodium infection in monkeys in the Brazilian state of Rondônia is in line with previous surveys of simian malaria in the Amazon region. The fact that a monkey species was found that had not previously been described to harbour malaria parasites indicates that the list of monkey species susceptible to Plasmodium infection is yet to be completed. Furthermore, finding monkeys in the region infected with P. falciparum clearly indicates parasite transfer from humans to the animals. Whether this parasite can be transferred back to humans and how persistent the parasite is in monkeys in the wild so to be efficient reservoirs of the disease, is yet to be evaluated. Finding different species of monkeys infected with this parasite species suggests indeed that these animals can act as reservoirs of human malaria.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Simian malaria is still an open question concerning the species of Plasmodium parasites and species of New World monkeys susceptible to the parasites. In addition, the lingering question as to whether these animals are reservoirs for human malaria might become important especially in a scenario of eradication of the disease. To aid in the answers to these questions, monkeys were surveyed for malaria parasite natural infection in the Amazonian state of Rondonia, Brazil, a state with intense environmental alterations due to human activities, which facilitated sampling of the animals. METHODS: Parasites were detected and identified in DNA from blood of monkeys, by PCR with primers for the 18S rRNA, CSP and MSP1 genes and sequencing of the amplified fragments. Multiplex PCR primers for the 18S rRNA genes were designed for the parasite species Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae/Plasmodium brasilianum and Plasmodium simium. RESULTS: An overall infection rate of 10.9% was observed or 20 out 184 monkey specimens surveyed, mostly by P. brasilianum. However, four specimens of monkeys were found infected with P. falciparum, two of them doubly infected with P. brasilianum and P. falciparum. In addition, a species of monkey of the family Aotidae, Aotus nigriceps, is firstly reported here naturally infected with P. brasilianum. None of the monkeys surveyed was found infected with P. simium/P. vivax. CONCLUSION: The rate of natural Plasmodium infection in monkeys in the Brazilian state of Rondonia is in line with previous surveys of simian malaria in the Amazon region. The fact that a monkey species was found that had not previously been described to harbour malaria parasites indicates that the list of monkey species susceptible to Plasmodium infection is yet to be completed. Furthermore, finding monkeys in the region infected with P. falciparum clearly indicates parasite transfer from humans to the animals. Whether this parasite can be transferred back to humans and how persistent the parasite is in monkeys in the wild so to be efficient reservoirs of the disease, is yet to be evaluated. Finding different species of monkeys infected with this parasite species suggests indeed that these animals can act as reservoirs of human malaria.
    Malaria Journal 06/2013; 12(1):180. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CBA macrophages effectively control Leishmania major infection, yet are permissive to Leishmania amazonensis. Employing a transcriptomic approach, we previously showed the up-regulation of the genes involved in the classical pathway of macrophage activation in resistant mice. However, microarray analyses do not evaluate changes in gene expression that occur after translation. To circumvent this analytical limitation, we employed a proteomics approach to increase our understanding of the modulations that occur during infection and identify novel targets for the control of Leishmania infection. To identify proteins whose expression changes in CBA macrophages infected with L. major or L. amazonensis, protein extracts were obtained and digested and the peptides were characterized using multi-dimensional liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry analyses. A total of 162 proteins were selected as potentially modulated. Using biological network analyses, these proteins were classified as primarily involved in cellular metabolism and grouped into cellular development biological networks. This study is the first to use a proteomics approach to describe the protein modulations involved in cellular metabolism during the initial events of Leishmania-macrophage interaction. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that these differentially expressed proteins likely play a pivotal role in determining the course of infection.
    Microbes and Infection 04/2013; · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endosymbiont-bearing trypanosomatids have been considered excellent models for the study of cell evolution because the host protozoan co-evolves with an intracellular bacterium in a mutualistic relationship. Such protozoa inhabit a single invertebrate host during their entire life cycle and exhibit special characteristics that group them in a particular phylogenetic cluster of the Trypanosomatidae family, thus classified as monoxenics. In an effort to better understand such symbiotic association, we used DNA pyrosequencing and a reference-guided assembly to generate reads that predicted 16,960 and 12,162 open reading frames (ORFs) in two symbiont-bearing trypanosomatids, Angomonas deanei (previously named as Crithidia deanei) and Strigomonas culicis (first known as Blastocrithidia culicis), respectively. Identification of each ORF was based primarily on TriTrypDB using tblastn, and each ORF was confirmed by employing getorf from EMBOSS and Newbler 2.6 when necessary. The monoxenic organisms revealed conserved housekeeping functions when compared to other trypanosomatids, especially compared with Leishmania major. However, major differences were found in ORFs corresponding to the cytoskeleton, the kinetoplast, and the paraflagellar structure. The monoxenic organisms also contain a large number of genes for cytosolic calpain-like and surface gp63 metalloproteases and a reduced number of compartmentalized cysteine proteases in comparison to other TriTryp organisms, reflecting adaptations to the presence of the symbiont. The assembled bacterial endosymbiont sequences exhibit a high A+T content with a total of 787 and 769 ORFs for the Angomonas deanei and Strigomonas culicis endosymbionts, respectively, and indicate that these organisms hold a common ancestor related to the Alcaligenaceae family. Importantly, both symbionts contain enzymes that complement essential host cell biosynthetic pathways, such as those for amino acid, lipid and purine/pyrimidine metabolism. These findings increase our understanding of the intricate symbiotic relationship between the bacterium and the trypanosomatid host and provide clues to better understand eukaryotic cell evolution.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e60209. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi displays similarities to fungi in terms of its sterol lipid biosynthesis, as ergosterol and other 24-alkylated sterols are its principal endogenous sterols. The sterol pathway is thus a potential drug target for the treatment of Chagas disease. We describe here a comparative study of the growth inhibition, ultrastructural and physiological changes leading to the death of T. cruzi cells following treatment with the sterol biosynthesis inhibitors (SBIs) ketoconazole and lovastatin. We first calculated the drug concentration inhibiting epimastigote growth by 50% (EC(50)/72 h) or killing all cells within 24 hours (EC(100)/24 h). Incubation with inhibitors at the EC(50)/72 h resulted in interesting morphological changes: intense proliferation of the inner mitochondrial membrane, which was corroborated by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy of the parasites stained with rhodamine 123, and strong swelling of the reservosomes, which was confirmed by acridine orange staining. These changes to the mitochondria and reservosomes may reflect the involvement of these organelles in ergosterol biosynthesis or the progressive autophagic process culminating in cell lysis after 6 to 7 days of treatment with SBIs at the EC(50)/72 h. By contrast, treatment with SBIs at the EC(100)/24 h resulted in rapid cell death with a necrotic phenotype: time-dependent cytosolic calcium overload, mitochondrial depolarization and reservosome membrane permeabilization (RMP), culminating in cell lysis after a few hours of drug exposure. We provide the first demonstration that RMP constitutes the "point of no return" in the cell death cascade, and propose a model for the necrotic cell death of T. cruzi. Thus, SBIs trigger cell death by different mechanisms, depending on the dose used, in T. cruzi. These findings shed new light on ergosterol biosynthesis and the mechanisms of programmed cell death in this ancient protozoan parasite.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e55497. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent of Chagas disease, an illness that affects about 10 million people, mostly in South America, for which there is no effective treatment or vaccine. In this context, transgenic parasites expressing reporter genes are interesting tools for investigating parasite biology and host-parasite interactions, with a view to developing new strategies for disease prevention and treatment. We describe here the construction of a stably transfected fluorescent T. cruzi clone in which the GFP gene is integrated into the chromosome carrying the ribosomal cistron in T. cruzi Dm28c. This fluorescent T. cruzi produces detectable amounts of GFP only at replicative stages (epimastigote and amastigote), consistent with the larger amounts of GFP mRNA detected in these forms than in the non replicative trypomastigote stages. The fluorescence signal was also strongly correlated with the total number of parasites in T. cruzi cultures, providing a simple and rapid means of determining the growth inhibitory dose of anti-T.cruzi drugs in epimastigotes, by fluorometric microplate screening, and in amastigotes, by the flow cytometric quantification of T. cruzi-infected Vero cells. This fluorescent T. cruzi clone is, thus, an interesting tool for unbiased detection of the proliferating stages of the parasite, with multiple applications in the genetic analysis of T. cruzi, including analyses of host-parasite interactions, gene expression regulation and drug development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e67441. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosomes are parasitic protozoa in which gene expression is primarily controlled through the regulation of mRNA stability and translation. This post-transcriptional control is mediated by various families of RNA-binding proteins, including those with zinc finger CCCH motifs. CCCH zinc finger proteins have been shown to be essential to differentiation events in trypanosomatid parasites. Here, we functionally characterise TcZFP2 as a predicted post-transcriptional regulator of differentiation in Trypanosoma cruzi. This protein was detected in cell culture-derived amastigotes and trypomastigotes, but it was present in smaller amounts in metacyclic trypomastigote forms of T. cruzi. We use an optimised recombinant RNA immunopreciptation followed by microarray analysis assay to identify TcZFP2 target mRNAs. We further demonstrate that TcZFP2 binds an A-rich sequence in which the adenosine residue repeats are essential for high-affinity recognition. An analysis of the expression profiles of the genes encoding the TcZFP2-associated mRNAs throughout the parasite life cycle by microarray hybridisation showed that most of the associated mRNAs were upregulated in the metacyclic trypomastigote forms, also suggesting a role for TcZFP2 in metacyclic trypomastigote differentiation. Knockdown of the orthologous Trypanosoma brucei protein levels showed ZFP2 to be a positive regulator of specific target mRNA abundance.
    Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 09/2012; 107(6):790-9. · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and periodontitis (PD) are complex inflammatory disturbances, influenced by genetic factors. Interleukin (IL)-1 genes code for inflammatory mediators involved in the physiopathogenesis of both diseases. Functional polymorphisms in IL1 genes modulate cytokine levels and have been associated with susceptibility to immune-inflammatory conditions. The aim of this study was investigate the association of functional IL1 gene polymorphisms and transcript levels with susceptibility to CKD and PD. The sample consisted of 246 individuals, mean age 44.8 years, divided into: group 1 (64 patients without CKD and without PD), group 2 (58 without CKD and with PD), group 3 (52 with CKD and without PD) and group 4 (72 with CKD and with PD). DNA was obtained from cells of oral mucosa and polymorphisms IL1AC-889T, IL1BC-511T, IL1BC+3954T and IL1RN (intron 2) were analyzed by PCR-RFLP. Transcript levels from gingival tissues were analyzed by real-time PCR. IL1RN(*)1 allele was associated with almost 4-fold increased risk for CKD (OR 3.92 95% CI=1.6-9.4, p=0.002). IL1RN(*)2 allele was associated with 3-fold increased risk for PD in CKD patients (OR 3.08 95% CI=1.2-7.9, p=0.019). Allele T for polymorphism IL1B+3954 was associated with CKD in PD patients (OR 2.28 95% CI=1.1-4.7, p=0.019). Significantly increased levels of transcripts of IL1A, IL1B and IL1RN genes were found in PD patients. It was observed an evidence for association of IL1B and IL1RN alleles with susceptibility to CKD and PD. Higher levels of IL1 gene transcripts were found in PD patients.
    Cytokine 07/2012; 60(1):76-82. · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, which is estimated to affect over eight million people around the world. Trypanosoma cruzi has a complex life cycle, involving insect and mammalian hosts and four distinct developmental stages: epimastigotes, metacyclic trypomastigotes, amastigotes, and bloodstream trypomastigotes. Metacyclogenesis is the process by which T. cruzi epimastigotes differentiate into metacyclic trypomastigotes and acquire infectivity, and involves differential gene expression associated with acquisition of virulence. In T. cruzi, gene expression regulation is achieved mainly posttranscriptionally. Therefore, proteomics-based approaches are extremely useful for gaining a better understanding of the changes that occur in the stage-regulated gene expression program of the parasite at the molecular level. Here, we performed an in-depth quantitative MS-based proteomic study of T. cruzi metacyclogenesis and quantified almost 3000 proteins expressed during the process of differentiation. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the most comprehensive quantitative proteomics study of different cell populations of T. cruzi available so far. We identified relevant proteins and pathways involved in the parasite's differentiation and infectivity acquisition, opening new perspectives for further studies that could, ultimately, lead to the identification of new targets for chemotherapy.
    Proteomics 07/2012; 12(17):2694-703. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, a neglected disorder that affects millions of people in the Americas. T. cruzi relies mostly upon post-transcriptional regulation to control stage specific gene expression. RNA binding proteins (RBPs) associate with functionally related mRNAs forming ribonucleoprotein complexes that define post-transcriptional operons. The RNA Recognition Motif (RRM) is the most common and ancient family of RBPs. This family of RBPs has been identified in trypanosomatid parasites and only a few of them have been functionally characterized. We describe here the functional characterization of TcRBP40, a T. cruzi specific RBP, and its associated mRNAs. We used a modified version of the recombinant RIP-Chip assay to identify the mRNAs with which it associates and in vivo TAP-tag assays to confirm these results. TcRBP40 binds to an AG-rich sequence in the 3'UTR of the associated mRNAs, which were found to encode mainly putative transmembrane proteins. TcRBP40 is differentially expressed in metacyclogenesis. Surprisingly, in epimastigotes, it is dispersed in the cytoplasm but is concentrated in the reservosomes, a T. cruzi specific organelle, which suggests a putative new function for this parasite organelle.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 03/2012; 420(2):302-7. · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The experimental murine model of leishmaniasis has been widely used to characterize the immune response against Leishmania. CBA mice develop severe lesions, while C57BL/6 present small chronic lesions under L. amazonensis infection. Employing a transcriptomic approach combined with biological network analysis, the gene expression profiles of C57BL/6 and CBA macrophages, before and after L. amazonensis infection in vitro, were compared. These strains were selected due to their different degrees of susceptibility to this parasite. The genes expressed by C57BL/6 and CBA macrophages, before and after infection, differ greatly, both with respect to absolute number as well as cell function. Uninfected C57BL/6 macrophages express genes involved in the deactivation pathway of macrophages at lower levels, while genes related to the activation of the host immune inflammatory response, including apoptosis and phagocytosis, have elevated expression levels. Several genes that participate in the apoptosis process were also observed to be up-regulated in C57BL/6 macrophages infected with L. amazonensis, which is very likely related to the capacity of these cells to control parasite infection. By contrast, genes involved in lipid metabolism were found to be up-regulated in CBA macrophages in response to infection, which supports the notion that L. amazonensis probably modulates parasitophorous vacuoles in order to survive and multiply in host cells. The transcriptomic profiles of C57BL/6 macrophages, before and after infection, were shown to be involved in the macrophage pathway of activation, which may aid in the control of L. amazonensis infection, in contrast to the profiles of CBA cells.
    BMC Microbiology 02/2012; 12:22. · 3.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of the present work was to develop reagents with potential for tuberculosis diagnosis. Genetic sequences of Mycobacterium tuberculosis secretion antigens were amplified by PCR, cloned into the Gateway(®) system, and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant M. tuberculosis proteins were purified by metal affinity chromatography and preparative gel SDS-PAGE electrophoresis followed by electroelution and removal of endotoxins using Triton X-114. In total, seven recombinant proteins were obtained (ESAT-6, CFP10, TB10.3, TB10.4, MTSP11, MPT70, and MPT83). Delayed hypersensitivity reactions (DHR) was evaluated in Cavia porcellus and compared to the response using a standard purified protein derivative (PPD). All seven recombinant proteins produced a positive induration reaction in an intradermal test in guinea pigs previously sensitized with M. tuberculosis. When applied together, at a concentration of each recombinant protein 0.04 mg/mL, the intradermoreaction in C. porcellus was significantly higher than that obtained by standard PPD (p-value=0.00386).
    Journal of Biotechnology 07/2011; 156(1):56-8. · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A recent (2007 to 2009) dengue outbreak caused by dengue virus (DENV) in Paraguay presented unusual severe clinical outcomes associated with 50% mortality rates. Although it has been reported that inflammatory responses influence the severity of dengue virus infection (T. Pang, M. J. Cardosa, and M. G. Guzman, Immunol. Cell Biol. 85:43-45, 2007), there remains a paucity of information on virus-innate immunity interactions influencing clinical outcome. Using human dendritic cells from a major innate immune cell population as an in vitro model, we have investigated signature cytokine responses as well as infectivity-replicative profiles of DENV clinical isolates from either a nonfatal case of classical dengue fever (strain DENV3/290; isolated in Brazil in 2002) or a fatal case of dengue fever with visceral complications isolated in Paraguay in 2007 (strain DENV3/5532). Strain DENV3/5532 was found to display significantly higher replicative ability than DENV3/290 in monocyte-derived dendritic cells (mdDCs). In addition, compared to DENV3/290 results, mdDCs exposed to DENV3/5532 showed increased production of proinflammatory cytokines associated with higher rates of programmed cell death, as shown by annexin V staining. The observed phenotype was due to viral replication, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) appears to exert a protective effect on virus-induced mdDC apoptosis. These results suggest that the DENV3/5532 strain isolated from the fatal case replicates within human dendritic cells, modulating cell survival and synthesis of inflammatory mediators.
    Journal of Virology 03/2011; 85(11):5374-83. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chagas' disease, caused by the hemoflagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, affects millions of people in South and Central America. Chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy, the most devastating manifestation of this disease, occurs in approximately one-third of infected individuals. Events associated with the parasite's tropism for and invasion of cardiomyocytes have been the focus of intense investigation in recent years. In the present study, we use murine microarrays to investigate the cellular response caused by invasion of primary murine cardiomyocytes by T. cruzi trypomastigotes. These studies identified 353 murine genes that were differentially expressed during the early stages of invasion and infection of these cells. Genes associated with the immune response, inflammation, cytoskeleton organization, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, apoptosis, cell cycle, and oxidative stress are among those affected during the infection. Our data indicate that T. cruzi induces broad modulations of the host cell machinery in ways that provide insight into how the parasite survives, replicates, and persists in the infected host and ultimately defines the clinical outcome of the infection.
    Infection and immunity 02/2011; 79(5):1855-62. · 4.21 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

299 Citations
105.58 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011
    • Roche Institute of Molecular Biology
      Nutley, New Jersey, United States
  • 2008–2011
    • Fundação Carlos Chagas
      San Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
      • Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
      Richmond, VA, United States
  • 2005–2009
    • Instituto de Biologia Molecular do Paraná
      Curityba, Paraná, Brazil