Trypanosoma cruzi maxicircle heterogeneity in Chagas disease patients from Brazil

Julio César Carranza, Helder M.S. Valadares, Daniella A. D'Ávila, Rodrigo P. Baptista, Margoth Moreno, Lúcia M.C. Galvão, Egler Chiari, Nancy R. Sturm, Eliane D. Gontijo, Andrea M. Macedo, Bianca Zingales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The majority of individuals in the chronic phase of Chagas disease are asymptomatic (indeterminate form, IF). Each year, ∼3% of them develop lesions in the heart or gastrointestinal tract. Cardiomyopathy (CCHD) is the most severe manifestation of Chagas disease. The factors that determine the outcome of the infection are unknown, but certainly depend on complex interactions amongst the genetic make-up of the parasite, the host immunogenetic background and environment. In a previous study we verified that the maxicircle gene NADH dehydrogenase (mitochondrial complex I) subunit 7 (ND7) from IF isolates had a 455 bp deletion compared with the wild type (WT) ND7 gene from CCHD strains. We proposed that ND7 could constitute a valuable target for PCR assays in the differential diagnosis of the infective strain. In the present study we evaluated this hypothesis by examination of ND7 structure in parasites from 75 patients with defined pathologies, from Southeast Brazil. We also analysed the structure of additional mitochondrial genes (ND4/CR4, COIII and COII) since the maxicircle is used for clustering Trypanosoma cruzi strains into three clades/haplogroups. We conclude that maxicircle genes do not discriminate parasite populations which induce IF or CCHD forms. Interestingly, the great majority of the analysed isolates belong to T. cruzi II (discrete typing unit, (DTU) IIb) genotype. This scenario is at variance with the prevalence of hybrid (DTU IId) human isolates in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The distribution of WT and deleted ND7 and ND4 genes in T. cruzi strains suggests that mutations in the two genes occurred in different ancestrals in the T. cruzi II cluster, allowing the identification of at least three mitochondrial sub-lineages within this group. The observation that T. cruzi strains accumulate mutations in several genes coding for complex I subunits favours the hypothesis that complex I may have a limited activity in this parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-973
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 15 2009


  • Chagas disease
  • Clinical presentations
  • Microsatellites
  • Mitochondrial complex I
  • NADH dehydrogenase subunit 7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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