The microparasite that causes Chagas disease really can integrate bits of its genetic material into its host's genome, where it can then be inherited by the host's offspring, according to two studies published in linkurl:PLoS ONE; and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (PLoS NTD).
Trypanosoma cruzi forms in blood smear from patient with African trypanosomiasis.
Image: Wikimedia commons, CDC/Dr. Myron G. Schultz
The findings, which may represent the first documentation of lateral genetic transfer from parasite to host and subsequent vertical transfer to the host's progeny, appear to confirm the results of a retracted 2004 Cell paper, but lingering uncertainties in the data leave some scientists unconvinced."I think it's very exciting, and could explain a lot of things about Chagas disease," said genome biologist linkurl:Cédric Feschotte; at the University of Texas in Arlington, who was not involved in the research. "The implications are potentially huge, but extraordinary claims...
Trypanosoma cruziT. cruziT. cruziCellCell
Trypanosoma cruzi in monkey heart.
Image: Wikimedia commons, CDC/ Dr. L.L. Moore, Jr.
CellThe ScientistCellCellPLoS ONET. cruziPLoS NTDT. cruziPLoS ONEPLoS NTDCellThe ScientistCellT. cruziM.M. Hecht et al., "Inheritance of DNA transferred from American trypanosomes to human hosts," linkurl:PLoS ONE,; 5: e918, 2010.A.R.L. Teixeira et al., "Trypanosoma cruzi in the chicken model: Chagas-like heart disease in the absence of parasitism," PLoS Negl Trop Dism, 5: e1000, 2011.


PLoS ONETrypanosoma cruzi
Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz

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