Effects of buthionine sulfoximine nifurtimox and benznidazole upon trypanothione and metallothionein proteins in Trypanosoma cruzi.
Proteins rich in sulfhydryl groups, such as metallothionein, are present in several strains of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas' disease. Metallothionein-like protein concentrations ranged from 5.1 to 13.2 pmol/mg protein depending on the parasite strain and growth phase. Nifurtimox and benznidazole, used in the treatment of Chagas' disease, decreased metallothionein activity by approximately 70%. T. cruzi metallothionein was induced by ZnCl2. Metallothionein from T. cruzi was partially purified and its monobromobimane derivative showed a molecular weight of approximately 10,000 Da by SDS-PAGE analysis. The concentration of trypanothione, the major glutathione conjugate in T. cruzi, ranged from 3.8 to 10.8 nmol/mg protein, depending on the culture phase. The addition of buthionine sulfoximine to the protozoal culture considerably reduced the concentration of trypanothione and had no effect upon the metallothionein concentration. The possible contribution of metallothionein-like proteins to drug resistance in T. cruzi is discussed.