The transformation of epimastigotes into metacyclic trypomastigotes involves changes in the pattern of expressed genes, resulting in important morphological and functional differences between these developmental forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. In order to identify and characterize genes involved in triggering the metacyclogenesis process and in conferring to metacyclic trypomastigotes their stage specific biological properties, we have developed a method allowing the isolation of genes specifically
expressed when comparing two close related cell populations (representation of differential expression or RDE). The method is based on the PCR amplification of gene sequences selected by hybridizing and subtracting the populations in such a way that after some cycles of hybridization-amplification genes specific to a given population are highly enriched. The use of this method in the analysis of differential gene expression during T. cruzi metacyclogenesis (6 hr and 24 hr of differentiation and metacyclic trypomastigotes) resulted in the isolation of several clones from each time point. Northern blot analysis showed that some genes are transiently expressed (6 hr and 24 hr differentiating cells), while others are present in differentiating cells and in metacyclic trypomastigotes. Nucleotide sequencing of six clones characterized so far showed that they do not display any homology to gene sequences available in the GeneBank.