Molecular Characterization of Tc964, A Novel Antigenic Protein from Trypanosoma cruzi

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Mar 31;21(7):2432. doi: 10.3390/ijms21072432.


The Tc964 protein was initially identified by its presence in the interactome associated with the LYT1 mRNAs, which code for a virulence factor of Trypanosoma cruzi. Tc964 is annotated in the T. cruzi genome as a hypothetical protein. According to phylogenetic analysis, the protein is conserved in the different genera of the Trypanosomatidae family; however, recognizable orthologues were not identified in other groups of organisms. Therefore, as a first step, an in-depth molecular characterization of the Tc946 protein was carried out. Based on structural predictions and molecular dynamics studies, the Tc964 protein would belong to a particular class of GTPases. Subcellular fractionation analysis indicated that Tc964 is a nucleocytoplasmic protein. Additionally, the protein was expressed as a recombinant protein in order to analyze its antigenicity with sera from Chagas disease (CD) patients. Tc964 was found to be antigenic, and B-cell epitopes were mapped by the use of synthetic peptides. In parallel, the Leishmania major homologue (Lm964) was also expressed as recombinant protein and used for a preliminary evaluation of antigen cross-reactivity in CD patients. Interestingly, Tc964 was recognized by sera from Chronic CD (CCD) patients at different stages of disease severity, but no reactivity against this protein was observed when sera from Colombian patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis were analyzed. Therefore, Tc964 would be adequate for CD diagnosis in areas where both infections (CD and leishmaniasis) coexist, even though additional assays using larger collections of sera are needed in order to confirm its usefulness for differential serodiagnosis.

Keywords: Leishmania major; Trypanosoma cruzi; chagas disease; leishmaniasis; molecular modelling; serodiagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan / chemistry*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics*
  • Chagas Disease / diagnosis
  • Chagas Disease / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Humans
  • Leishmania infantum / genetics
  • Leishmania infantum / metabolism
  • Leishmania major
  • Leishmaniasis / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / parasitology
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Phylogeny
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Serologic Tests
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases