Nuclear Structure of Trypanosoma cruzi

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Schenkman, Sergio [UNIFESP]
Pascoalino, Bruno dos Santos [UNIFESP]
Nardelli, Sheila C. [UNIFESP]
Weiss, L. M.
Tanowitz, H. B.
Kirchhoff, L. V.
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The presence of nucleus in living organisms characterizes the Eukaryote domain. the nucleus compartmentalizes the genetic material surrounded by a double membrane called nuclear envelope. the nucleus has been observed since the advent of the light microscope, and sub-compartments such as nucleoli, diverse nuclear bodies and condensed chromosomes have been later recognized, being part of highly organized and dynamic structure. the significance and function of such organization has increased with the understanding of transcription, replication, DNA repair, recombination processes. It is now recognized as consequence of adding complexity and regulation in more complex eukaryotic cells. Here we provide a description of the actual stage of knowledge of the nuclear structure of Trypanosoma cruzi. As an early divergent eukaryote, it presents unique and/or reduced events of DNA replication, transcription and repair as well as RNA processing and transport to the cytosol. Nevertheless, it shows peculiar structure changes accordingly to the cell cycle and stage of differentiation. T. cruzi proliferates only as epimastigote and amastigote stages, and when these forms differentiate in trypomastigote forms, their cell cycle is arrested. This arrested stage is capable of invading mammalian cells and of surviving harsh conditions, such as the gut of the insect vector and mammalian macrophages. Transcription and replication decrease during transformation in trypomastigotes implicating large alterations in the nuclear structure. Recent evidences also suggest that T. cruzi nucleus respond to oxidative and nutritional stresses. Due to the phylogenetic proximity with other well-known trypanosomes, such as Tryponosoma brucei and Leishmania major, they are expected to have similar nuclear organization, although differences are noticed due to distinct life cycles, cellular organizations and the specific adaptations for surviving in different host environments. Therefore, the general features of T. cruzi nuclear structure regarding unique characteristics of this protozoan parasite will be described.
Advances in Parasitology, Vol 75: Chagas Disease, Pt A. San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press Inc, v. 75, p. 251-283, 2011.