Cell Signaling During Trypanosoma cruzi Development in Triatominae


The year 2009 is the centennial anniversary of the original description of Chagas disease by Carlos Chagas. During the last 100 years, several advances have occurred regarding our knowledge of the development of Trypanosoma cruzi and its travel along the gut of Triatominae vectors. We have also witnessed the completion of both the human and parasite genome projects; the genome of one of Chagas disease vectors, Rhodnius prolixus, is currently being sequenced. The development of T. cruzi in triatomine gut relies on several biochemical and molecular processes. The biochemistry of blood digestion and the molecular and biological aspects of parasite development are well known. However, several signaling molecules are generated during blood digestion, and their effects on parasite biology are only beginning to be understood. Here, we will summarize our current knowledge in this area with an emphasis on heme and bioactive lipids. In addition, we will highlight some recently described members of the parasite signaling machinery, which were identified through high-throughput studies, but whose ligands are unknown thus far. Finally, we will discuss some potential aspects for future investigation in this area that may strengthen our view of such a concomitant biological process in the next years.

Keywords: Trypanosoma, heme, lysophosphatidylcholine, Chagas disease, Rhodnius.