Ascorbate peroxidases (APX) are class I heme-containing enzymes that convert hydrogen peroxide into water molecules. The gene encoding APX has been characterized in 11 strains of Trypanosoma cruzi
that are sensitive or resistant to benznidazole (BZ). Bioinformatic analysis revealed the presence of two complete copies of the T. cruzi
APX (TcAPX) gene in the genome of the parasite, while karyotype analysis showed that the gene was present in the 2.000-kb chromosome of all of the strains analyzed. The sequence of TcAPX exhibited greater levels of similarity to those of orthologous enzymes from Leishmania
spp than to APXs from the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana
. Northern blot and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses revealed no significant differences in TcAPX mRNA levels between the T. cruzi
strains analyzed. On the other hand, Western blots showed that the expression levels of TcAPX protein were, respectively, two and three-fold higher in T. cruzi
populations with in vitro induced (17 LER) and in vivo selected (BZR) resistance to BZ, in comparison with their corresponding susceptible counterparts. Moreover, the two BZ-resistant populations exhibited higher tolerances to exogenous hydrogen peroxide than their susceptible counterparts and showed TcAPX levels that increased in a dose-dependent manner following exposure to 100 and 200 μM hydrogen peroxide.