Differential display of mRNAs from Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigote and metacyclic trypomastigote stages showed several mRNA species differing in their expression level. The cDNA corresponding to one of these mRNAs was used as a probe in Northern blots and identified a RNA product of 2.6 kb with an expression level eight or more times higher in trypomastigotes than in epimastigotes. This probe was also used to screen a genomic library of T. cruzi CL Brener clone prepared in lambda FIX. A clone of about 15 kb was selected that, after partial sequencing, revealed an open reading frame of 688 amino acids encoding a deduced protein with similarity to RNA helicases of the DEAD-box gene family. The presence of the eight conserved motifs characteristic of the DEAD protein family was observed in the T. cruzi sequence, indicating that it corresponds to a putative RNA helicase gene, which we named HelTc. Southern blot analysis indicated that HelTc is a single-copy gene. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis separation of chromosomes of several isolates of T. cruzi showed that this gene was localized in one or two chromosomal bands.
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Vol. 47 • No. 6