The life cycle of the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi
exposes it to several environmental stresses in its invertebrate and vertebrate hosts. Stress conditions are involved in parasite differentiation, but little is known about the stress response proteins involved. We report here the first characterization of stress-induced protein-1 (STI-1) in T. cruzi
(TcSTI-1). This co-chaperone is produced in response to stress and mediates the formation of a complex between the stress proteins HSP70 and HSP90 in other organisms. Despite the similarity of TcSTI-1 to STI-1 proteins in other organisms, its expression profile in response to various stress conditions, such as heat shock, acidic pH or nutrient starvation, is quite different. Neither polysomal mRNA nor protein levels changed in exponentially growing epimastigotes cultured under any of the stress conditions studied. Increased levels of TcSTI-1 were observed in epimastigotes subjected to nutritional stress in the late growth phase. Co-immunoprecipitation assays revealed an association between TcSTI-1 and TcHSP70 in T. cruzi
epimastigotes. Immunolocalization demonstrated that TcSTI-1 was distributed throughout the cytoplasm and there was some colocalization of TcSTI-1 and TcHSP70 around the nucleus. Thus, TcSTI-1 associates with TcHSP70 and TcSTI-1 expression is induced when the parasites are subjected to stress conditions during specific growth phase.