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An Exploration of the Genetic Robustness Landscape of Surface Protein Families in the Human Protozoan Parasite Trypanosoma Cruzi

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3 Author(s)

The ability of genes to be robust to mutations at the codon level has been suggested as a key factor for understanding adaptation features. It has been proposed that genes relevant to host-parasite interactions will tend to exhibit high volatility or "antirobust" patterns, which may be related to the capacity of the parasite to evade the host immune system. We compared two superfamilies of surface proteins, trans-sialidase (TS)-like proteins and putative surface protein dispersed gene family-1 (DGF-1), in the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi in terms of a measure of gene volatility. We proposed alternative codon robustness indicators based on cross entropy and impurity of amino acids encoded by point-mutations, which were compared to a volatility estimator previously published. This allowed us to present a more detailed description of the differences between families. A significant difference was observed in terms of these scores, with the TS-MVarl and the DGF-1 families showing the highest and lowest gene volatility values respectively. The cross entropy and impurity estimators suggest that the MVarl levels of volatility are linearly correlated with their capacity to generate diverse sets of amino acids as a consequence of potential mutations. This study indicates the feasibility of applying different measures of genetic robustness to detect variations between potential drug targets at the protein level.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on NanoBioscience  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 3 )