Cloning and expression analysis of two novel paraflagellar rod domain genes found in Trypanosoma cruzi
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The eukaryotic flagellum is one of the most complex macromolecular structures found in cells, containing more than 250 proteins. One unique structure in the flagella of trypanomastids is the paraflagellar rod (PFR). The PFR constitutes a lattice of cytoskeletal filaments that lies alongside the axoneme in the flagella. This unique and complex structure is critical for cell motility, though little is known about its molecular assembly or its role in the lifecycle of trypanosomatids. These proteins are of particular importance in Trypanosoma cruzi, as purified or recombinant PFR proteins have been demonstrated to be immunogenic, protecting mice from a lethal challenge with the parasite. We have searched the T. cruzi databases and discovered two novel genes containing PFR domains. Both these genes are transcribed in vivo and are significantly larger than the previously described PFR genes identified in T. cruzi (>2 Kb). Real-time PCR was used to examine the relative expression levels of six PFR genes, including the two we describe here, in all three stages of T. cruzi’s lifecycle. Database searches have further provided EST and genomic sequence support for the presence of these genes in two other pathogenic trypanosomatids, Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania spp. One of these genes, designated PFR5 contains a carboxy terminal SH3 domain not previously seen in PFR family genes. We propose that this proline-binding SH3 domain may play an important role in the assembly of the PFR.
KeywordsTrypanosoma cruzi Chagas’ disease Paraflagellar rod Src Homology-3 Trypanomastid
Expressed sequence tag
The authors would like to thank Bing-Bing Wang for bioinformatics support, Smriti Gupta for RNA analysis, Harvey Qu for statistical analysis, and Jill Zeilstra-Ryalls and Paul McBride for critically reading this manuscript. This study was supported by Oakland University’s Research Excellence fund and Faculty start up funds. All the experiments described comply with the current laws of the United States where the experiments were performed.