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KOSEC, Gregor; ALVAREZ, Vanina  and  CAZZULO, Juan J.. Cysteine proteinases of Trypanosoma cruzi: from digestive enzymes to programmed cell death. Biocell [online]. 2006, vol.30, n.3, pp.479-490. ISSN 0327-9545.

Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite causing Chagas disease, contains a number of proteolytic enzymes. The recent completion of the genome sequence of the T. cruzi CL Brener clone suggests the presence of 70 cysteine peptidases, 40 serine peptidases (none of them from the chymotrypsin family), about 250 metallopeptidases (most leishmanolysin homologues), 25 threonine peptidases, and only two aspartyl peptidases, none of them from the pepsin family. The cysteine peptidases belong to 7 families of Clan CA, 3 families of Clan CD, and one each of Clans CE and CF. In Clan CA, the C1 family is represented by cruzipains 1 and 2, biochemically well characterized, as well as cathepsin B and two other cathepsins. There are a number of homologues to calpains (family C2), probably non-functional, lacking the Ca-binding domain. Family C54 includes the Atg4 proteinases (autophagins), which seem to be involved in the autophagic process. Clan CD includes family C14, the metacaspases. We have expressed the metacaspases TcMCA3 and TcMCA5, and obtained indirect evidence of their participation in programmed cell death induced by fresh human serum in the parasite. More experiments are required to better define their role in apoptosis.

Keywords : Trypanosoma cruzi; Chagas disease; Cysteine proteinases; Apoptosis; Autophagy.

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