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Keywords:

  • Cellular differentiation;
  • Label free quantification;
  • Mass spectrometry-based proteomics;
  • Metacyclogenesis;
  • Trypanosoma cruzi

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.