Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent of Chagas. Although the nuclear chromatin of this parasite is organized in the form of nucleosome filaments, its chromatin is physically and enzymatically fragile, and no condensation into chromosomes occurs during mitosis. All previous investigations have been carried out with epimastigote form in its proliferate stage. It is not known whether these differences in chromatin structure are also found in the non-proliferate stationary epimastigote forms and in tissue derived trypomastigotes. Our results confirm that chromatin of logarithmic epimastigotes presents limited compaction when increasing salt concentrations from 1 to 100 mM NaCl, and no 30-nm fibers were formed. Contrary to these results, non-proliferative forms of the parasites showed a pattern of compactation similar to that observed in rat liver chromatin, where solenoids of 30-nm fibers are formed at 100-mM NaCl. In accordance with these results, digestion of the nuclear chromatin with DNase I revealed that the chromatin of logarithmic phase epimastigotes was more accessible to the enzyme. We conclude from these results that structural differences in the chromatin exist not only between T. cruzi and higher eukaryotes but also among various forms of the parasite. The functional significance of these differences are currently under investigation.
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