Heat shock protein (HSP) 104 is a highly conserved molecular chaperone that catalyzes protein unfolding, disaggregation and degradation under stress conditions. We characterized HSP104 gene structure and expression in Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan parasite that causes Chagas’ disease. The T. cruzi HSP104 is an 869 amino-acid protein encoded by a single-copy gene that has the highest sequence similarity (76%) with that of T. brucei and the lowest (23%) with that of the human protein. HSP104 transcripts were detected at room temperature, and levels increased after incubation at 37° or 40°C. The HSP104 protein was found at low levels in non-heat-shocked cells, and accumulated continuously up to 24 h at elevated temperatures. We developed a predicted structural model of hexameric T. cruzi HSP104, which showed some conserved features.
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