The recombinase Rad51 plays a key role in events of genetic exchange in Trypanosoma cruzi

Detection of genetic exchange has been a limiting factor to deepen the knowledge on the mechanisms by which Trypanosoma cruzi is able to generate progeny and genetic diversity. Here we show that incorporation of halogenated thymidine analogues, followed by immunostaining, is a reliable method not only to detect T. cruzi fused-cell hybrids, but also to quantify their percentage in populations of this parasite. Through this approach, we were able to detect and quantify fused-cell hybrids of T. cruzi clones CL Brener and Y. Given the increased detection of fused-cell hybrids in naturally-occurring hybrid CL Brener strain, which displays increased levels of RAD51 and BRCA2 transcripts, we further investigated the role of Rad51 – a recombinase involved in homologous recombination – in the process of genetic exchange. We also verified that the detection of fused-cell hybrids in T. cruzi overexpressing RAD51 is increased when compared to wild-type cells, suggesting a key role for Rad51 either in the formation or in the stabilization of fused-cell hybrids in this organism.

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Alves CL, Repolês BM, Silva MS, Mendes IC, Marin PA, Aguiar PHN, et al. The recombinase Rad51 plays a key role in events of genetic exchange in Trypanosoma cruzi. Sci Rep. 2018;8:13335. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31541-z.
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