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Retrotransposon Hot Spot (RHS) is the most abundant gene family in Trypanosoma cruzi, with unknown function in this parasite. The aim of this work was to shed light on the organization and expression of RHS in T. cruzi. The diversity of the RHS protein family in T. cruzi was demonstrated by phylogenetic and recombination analyses. Transcribed sequences carrying the RHS domain were classified into ten distinct groups of monophyletic origin. We identified numerous recombination events among the RHS and traced the origins of the donors and target sequences. The transcribed RHS genes have a mosaic structure that may contain fragments of different RHS inserted in the target sequence. About 30% of RHS sequences are located in the subtelomere, a region very susceptible to recombination. The evolution of the RHS family has been marked by many events, including gene duplication by unequal mitotic crossing-over, homologous, as well as ectopic recombination, and gene conversion. The expression of RHS was analyzed by immunofluorescence and immunoblotting using anti-RHS antibodies. RHS proteins are evenly distributed in the nuclear region of T. cruzi replicative forms (amastigote and epimastigote), suggesting that they could be involved in the control of the chromatin structure and gene expression, as has been proposed for T. brucei.


Werica P Bernardo, Renata T Souza, André G Costa-Martins, Eden R Ferreira, Renato A Mortara, Marta M G Teixeira, José Luis Ramirez, José F Da Silveira. Genomic Organization and Generation of Genetic Variability in the RHS (Retrotransposon Hot Spot) Protein Multigene Family in Trypanosoma cruzi. Genes. 2020 Sep 17;11(9)

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PMID: 32957642

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