Trypanosoma cruzi (T.cruzi), the cause of Chagas' disease, is an unbeaten adversary. Immunological or chemotherapeutic protection is not available and it is becoming, like other higher Trypanosomatidae, a favorite for studies intended to elucidate how mitochondrial DNA joins in regulating relations between life in the invertebrate vector and in the mammalian host.
Fig. 1 Model of Trypanosoma Cruzi
Whole-genome sequencing of the protozoan pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi revealed that the diploid genome contains a predicted 22,570 proteins encoded by genes, of which 12,570 represent allelic pairs. Over 50% of the genome consists of repeated sequences, such as retrotransposons and genes for large families of surface molecules, which include trans-sialidases, mucins, gp63s, and a large novel family (>1300 copies) of mucin-associated surface protein (MASP) genes. Analyses of the T. cruzi, T. brucei, and Leishmania major (Tritryp) genomes imply differences from other eukaryotes in DNA repair and initiation of replication and reflect their unusual mitochondrial DNA. Although the Tritryp lack several classes of signaling molecules, their kinomes contain a large and diverse set of protein kinases and phosphatases; their size and diversity imply previously unknown interactions and regulatory processes, which may be targets for intervention.
The Trypanosoma cruzi life cycle starts in an animal reservoir, usually mammals, wild or domestic, including humans. A triatomine bug serves as the vector. While taking a blood meal, it ingests T. cruzi. In the triatomine bug (Triatoma infestans) the parasite goes into the epimastigote stage, making it possible to reproduce. After reproducing through binary fission, the epimastigotes move onto the rectal cell wall, where they become infectious. Infectious T. cruzi are called metacyclic trypomastigotes. When the triatomine bug subsequently takes a blood meal from a human, it defecates. The trypomastigotes are in the feces and are capable of swimming into the host's cells using flagella, a characteristic swimming tail dominant in the Euglenoid class of protists. The trypomastigotes enter the human host through the bite wound or by crossing mucous membranes. The host cells contain macromolecules such as laminin, thrombospondin, heparin sulphate, and fibronectin that cover their surface. These macromolecules are essential for adhesion between parasite and host and for the process of host invasion by the parasite. The trypomastigotes must cross a network of proteins that line the exterior of the host cells in order to make contact and invade the host cells. The molecules and proteins on the cytoskeleton of the cell also bind to the surface of the parasite and initiate host invasion.