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1.  Unveiling the Intracellular Survival Gene Kit of Trypanosomatid Parasites 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004399.
Trypanosomatids are unicellular protozoans of medical and economical relevance since they are the etiologic agents of infectious diseases in humans as well as livestock. Whereas Trypanosoma cruzi and different species of Leishmania are obligate intracellular parasites, Trypanosoma brucei and other trypanosomatids develop extracellularly throughout their entire life cycle. After their genomes have been sequenced, various comparative genomic studies aimed at identifying sequences involved with host cell invasion and intracellular survival have been described. However, for only a handful of genes, most of them present exclusively in the T. cruzi or Leishmania genomes, has there been any experimental evidence associating them with intracellular parasitism. With the increasing number of published complete genome sequences of members of the trypanosomatid family, including not only different Trypanosoma and Leishmania strains and subspecies but also trypanosomatids that do not infect humans or other mammals, we may now be able to contemplate a slightly better picture regarding the specific set of parasite factors that defines each organism's mode of living and the associated disease phenotypes. Here, we review the studies concerning T. cruzi and Leishmania genes that have been implicated with cell invasion and intracellular parasitism and also summarize the wealth of new information regarding the mode of living of intracellular parasites that is resulting from comparative genome studies that are based on increasingly larger trypanosomatid genome datasets.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004399
PMCID: PMC4256449  PMID: 25474314
2.  Identification and Functional Analysis of Trypanosoma cruzi Genes That Encode Proteins of the Glycosylphosphatidylinositol Biosynthetic Pathway 
Background
Trypanosoma cruzi is a protist parasite that causes Chagas disease. Several proteins that are essential for parasite virulence and involved in host immune responses are anchored to the membrane through glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) molecules. In addition, T. cruzi GPI anchors have immunostimulatory activities, including the ability to stimulate the synthesis of cytokines by innate immune cells. Therefore, T. cruzi genes related to GPI anchor biosynthesis constitute potential new targets for the development of better therapies against Chagas disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In silico analysis of the T. cruzi genome resulted in the identification of 18 genes encoding proteins of the GPI biosynthetic pathway as well as the inositolphosphorylceramide (IPC) synthase gene. Expression of GFP fusions of some of these proteins in T. cruzi epimastigotes showed that they localize in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Expression analyses of two genes indicated that they are constitutively expressed in all stages of the parasite life cycle. T. cruzi genes TcDPM1, TcGPI10 and TcGPI12 complement conditional yeast mutants in GPI biosynthesis. Attempts to generate T. cruzi knockouts for three genes were unsuccessful, suggesting that GPI may be an essential component of the parasite. Regarding TcGPI8, which encodes the catalytic subunit of the transamidase complex, although we were able to generate single allele knockout mutants, attempts to disrupt both alleles failed, resulting instead in parasites that have undergone genomic recombination and maintained at least one active copy of the gene.
Conclusions/Significance
Analyses of T. cruzi sequences encoding components of the GPI biosynthetic pathway indicated that they are essential genes involved in key aspects of host-parasite interactions. Complementation assays of yeast mutants with these T. cruzi genes resulted in yeast cell lines that can now be employed in high throughput screenings of drugs against this parasite.
Author Summary
Chagas disease, considered one of the most neglected tropical diseases, is caused by the blood-borne parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and currently affects about 8 million people in Latin America. T. cruzi can be transmitted by insect vectors, blood transfusion, organ transplantation and mother-to-baby as well as through ingestion of contaminated food. Although T. cruzi causes life-long infections that can result in serious damage to the heart, the two drugs currently available to treat Chagas disease, benznidazole and nifurtimox, which have been used for more than 40 years, have proven efficacy only during the acute phase of the disease. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop new drugs that are more targeted, less toxic, and more effective against this parasite. Here we described the characterization of T. cruzi genes involved in the biosynthesis of GPI anchors, a molecule responsible for holding different types of glycoproteins on the parasite membrane. Since GPI anchored proteins are essential molecules T. cruzi uses during infection, besides helping understand how this parasite interacts with its host, this work may contribute to the development of better therapies against Chagas disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002369
PMCID: PMC3738449  PMID: 23951384
3.  Oxidative Stress and DNA Lesions: The Role of 8-Oxoguanine Lesions in Trypanosoma cruzi Cell Viability 
The main consequence of oxidative stress is the formation of DNA lesions, which can result in genomic instability and lead to cell death. Guanine is the base that is most susceptible to oxidation, due to its low redox potential, and 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) is the most common lesion. These characteristics make 8-oxoG a good cellular biomarker to indicate the extent of oxidative stress. If not repaired, 8-oxoG can pair with adenine and cause a G:C to T:A transversion. When 8-oxoG is inserted during DNA replication, it could generate double-strand breaks, which makes this lesion particularly deleterious. Trypanosoma cruzi needs to address various oxidative stress situations, such as the mammalian intracellular environment and the triatomine insect gut where it replicates. We focused on the MutT enzyme, which is responsible for removing 8-oxoG from the nucleotide pool. To investigate the importance of 8-oxoG during parasite infection of mammalian cells, we characterized the MutT gene in T. cruzi (TcMTH) and generated T. cruzi parasites heterologously expressing Escherichia coli MutT or overexpressing the TcMTH enzyme. In the epimastigote form, the recombinant and wild-type parasites displayed similar growth in normal conditions, but the MutT-expressing cells were more resistant to hydrogen peroxide treatment. The recombinant parasite also displayed significantly increased growth after 48 hours of infection in fibroblasts and macrophages when compared to wild-type cells, as well as increased parasitemia in Swiss mice. In addition, we demonstrated, using western blotting experiments, that MutT heterologous expression can influence the parasite antioxidant enzyme protein levels. These results indicate the importance of the 8-oxoG repair system for cell viability.
Author Summary
The parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, a malady endemic throughout Latin America. Studying the DNA repair machinery of this parasite could provide us with good insights about T. cruzi biology and virulence. We focused on the 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) DNA lesion and its repair system. This lesion is considered particularly deleterious because it can generate DNA double strand breaks if inserted during the DNA replication. Our approach to investigating the importance of the 8-oxoG repair system in T. cruzi was to generate a parasite population expressing the Escherichia coli MutT enzyme, which is responsible for removing 8-oxo-dGTP from the nucleotide pool. Different parameters such as growth curves, cell infection experiments, antioxidants, enzymes expression, and DNA lesion quantification were used to study this modified parasite in comparison with a control WT population. We also characterized a gene in T. cruzi that has functional homology with the E. coli MutT gene. The overexpression of this gene in T. cruzi caused the same phenotypes observed when we expressed the heterologous gene. Overall, the results indicate the importance of this DNA repair enzyme for T. cruzi resistance to oxidative stress and improving its proliferative ability in the vertebrate host.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002279
PMCID: PMC3681716  PMID: 23785540
4.  The Genome of Anopheles darlingi, the main neotropical malaria vector 
Marinotti, Osvaldo | Cerqueira, Gustavo C. | de Almeida, Luiz Gonzaga Paula | Ferro, Maria Inês Tiraboschi | Loreto, Elgion Lucio da Silva | Zaha, Arnaldo | Teixeira, Santuza M. R. | Wespiser, Adam R. | Almeida e Silva, Alexandre | Schlindwein, Aline Daiane | Pacheco, Ana Carolina Landim | da Silva, Artur Luiz da Costa | Graveley, Brenton R. | Walenz, Brian P. | Lima, Bruna de Araujo | Ribeiro, Carlos Alexandre Gomes | Nunes-Silva, Carlos Gustavo | de Carvalho, Carlos Roberto | Soares, Célia Maria de Almeida | de Menezes, Claudia Beatriz Afonso | Matiolli, Cleverson | Caffrey, Daniel | Araújo, Demetrius Antonio M. | de Oliveira, Diana Magalhães | Golenbock, Douglas | Grisard, Edmundo Carlos | Fantinatti-Garboggini, Fabiana | de Carvalho, Fabíola Marques | Barcellos, Fernando Gomes | Prosdocimi, Francisco | May, Gemma | de Azevedo Junior, Gilson Martins | Guimarães, Giselle Moura | Goldman, Gustavo Henrique | Padilha, Itácio Q. M. | Batista, Jacqueline da Silva | Ferro, Jesus Aparecido | Ribeiro, José M. C. | Fietto, Juliana Lopes Rangel | Dabbas, Karina Maia | Cerdeira, Louise | Agnez-Lima, Lucymara Fassarella | Brocchi, Marcelo | de Carvalho, Marcos Oliveira | Teixeira, Marcus de Melo | Diniz Maia, Maria de Mascena | Goldman, Maria Helena S. | Cruz Schneider, Maria Paula | Felipe, Maria Sueli Soares | Hungria, Mariangela | Nicolás, Marisa Fabiana | Pereira, Maristela | Montes, Martín Alejandro | Cantão, Maurício E. | Vincentz, Michel | Rafael, Miriam Silva | Silverman, Neal | Stoco, Patrícia Hermes | Souza, Rangel Celso | Vicentini, Renato | Gazzinelli, Ricardo Tostes | Neves, Rogério de Oliveira | Silva, Rosane | Astolfi-Filho, Spartaco | Maciel, Talles Eduardo Ferreira | Ürményi, Turán P. | Tadei, Wanderli Pedro | Camargo, Erney Plessmann | de Vasconcelos, Ana Tereza Ribeiro
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(15):7387-7400.
Anopheles darlingi is the principal neotropical malaria vector, responsible for more than a million cases of malaria per year on the American continent. Anopheles darlingi diverged from the African and Asian malaria vectors ∼100 million years ago (mya) and successfully adapted to the New World environment. Here we present an annotated reference A. darlingi genome, sequenced from a wild population of males and females collected in the Brazilian Amazon. A total of 10 481 predicted protein-coding genes were annotated, 72% of which have their closest counterpart in Anopheles gambiae and 21% have highest similarity with other mosquito species. In spite of a long period of divergent evolution, conserved gene synteny was observed between A. darlingi and A. gambiae. More than 10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms and short indels with potential use as genetic markers were identified. Transposable elements correspond to 2.3% of the A. darlingi genome. Genes associated with hematophagy, immunity and insecticide resistance, directly involved in vector–human and vector–parasite interactions, were identified and discussed. This study represents the first effort to sequence the genome of a neotropical malaria vector, and opens a new window through which we can contemplate the evolutionary history of anopheline mosquitoes. It also provides valuable information that may lead to novel strategies to reduce malaria transmission on the South American continent. The A. darlingi genome is accessible at www.labinfo.lncc.br/index.php/anopheles-darlingi.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt484
PMCID: PMC3753621  PMID: 23761445
5.  Genomic Analyses, Gene Expression and Antigenic Profile of the Trans-Sialidase Superfamily of Trypanosoma cruzi Reveal an Undetected Level of Complexity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25914.
The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, a highly debilitating human pathology that affects millions of people in the Americas. The sequencing of this parasite's genome reveals that trans-sialidase/trans-sialidase-like (TcS), a polymorphic protein family known to be involved in several aspects of T. cruzi biology, is the largest T. cruzi gene family, encoding more than 1,400 genes. Despite the fact that four TcS groups are well characterized and only one of the groups contains active trans-sialidases, all members of the family are annotated in the T. cruzi genome database as trans-sialidase. After performing sequence clustering analysis with all TcS complete genes, we identified four additional groups, demonstrating that the TcS family is even more heterogeneous than previously thought. Interestingly, members of distinct TcS groups show distinctive patterns of chromosome localization. Members of the TcSgroupII, which harbor proteins involved in host cell attachment/invasion, are preferentially located in subtelomeric regions, whereas members of the largest and new TcSgroupV have internal chromosomal locations. Real-time RT-PCR confirms the expression of genes derived from new groups and shows that the pattern of expression is not similar within and between groups. We also performed B-cell epitope prediction on the family and constructed a TcS specific peptide array, which was screened with sera from T. cruzi-infected mice. We demonstrated that all seven groups represented in the array are antigenic. A highly reactive peptide occurs in sixty TcS proteins including members of two new groups and may contribute to the known cross-reactivity of T. cruzi epitopes during infection. Taken together, our results contribute to a better understanding of the real complexity of the TcS family and open new avenues for investigating novel roles of this family during T. cruzi infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025914
PMCID: PMC3198458  PMID: 22039427
6.  Evidence for Reductive Genome Evolution and Lateral Acquisition of Virulence Functions in Two Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Strains 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18551.
Background
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, a Gram-positive, facultative intracellular pathogen, is the etiologic agent of the disease known as caseous lymphadenitis (CL). CL mainly affects small ruminants, such as goats and sheep; it also causes infections in humans, though rarely. This species is distributed worldwide, but it has the most serious economic impact in Oceania, Africa and South America. Although C. pseudotuberculosis causes major health and productivity problems for livestock, little is known about the molecular basis of its pathogenicity.
Methodology and Findings
We characterized two C. pseudotuberculosis genomes (Cp1002, isolated from goats; and CpC231, isolated from sheep). Analysis of the predicted genomes showed high similarity in genomic architecture, gene content and genetic order. When C. pseudotuberculosis was compared with other Corynebacterium species, it became evident that this pathogenic species has lost numerous genes, resulting in one of the smallest genomes in the genus. Other differences that could be part of the adaptation to pathogenicity include a lower GC content, of about 52%, and a reduced gene repertoire. The C. pseudotuberculosis genome also includes seven putative pathogenicity islands, which contain several classical virulence factors, including genes for fimbrial subunits, adhesion factors, iron uptake and secreted toxins. Additionally, all of the virulence factors in the islands have characteristics that indicate horizontal transfer.
Conclusions
These particular genome characteristics of C. pseudotuberculosis, as well as its acquired virulence factors in pathogenicity islands, provide evidence of its lifestyle and of the pathogenicity pathways used by this pathogen in the infection process. All genomes cited in this study are available in the NCBI Genbank database (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/) under accession numbers CP001809 and CP001829.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018551
PMCID: PMC3078919  PMID: 21533164
7.  Trypanosoma cruzi MSH2: Functional analyses on different parasite strains provide evidences for a role on the oxidative stress response☆ 
Graphical abstract
T. cruzi II strains accumulate more 8-oxoguanine in the kDNA after hydrogen peroxide-induced 18 oxidative stress than T. cruzi I strains. NT: untreated; T: treated.
Research highlights
▶ Distinct levels of DNA mismatch repair activity are found among T. cruzi strains. ▶ In T. cruzi and T. brucei, MSH2 has a mitochondrial function involved in the response to oxidative stress.
Components of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway are major players in processes known to generate genetic diversity, such as mutagenesis and DNA recombination. Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease has a highly heterogeneous population, composed of a pool of strains with distinct characteristics. Studies with a number of molecular markers identified up to six groups in the T. cruzi population, which showed distinct levels of genetic variability. To investigate the molecular basis for such differences, we analyzed the T. cruzi MSH2 gene, which encodes a key component of MMR, and showed the existence of distinct isoforms of this protein. Here we compared cell survival rates after exposure to genotoxic agents and levels of oxidative stress-induced DNA in different parasite strains. Analyses of msh2 mutants in both T. cruzi and T. brucei were also used to investigate the role of Tcmsh2 in the response to various DNA damaging agents. The results suggest that the distinct MSH2 isoforms have differences in their activity. More importantly, they also indicate that, in addition to its role in MMR, TcMSH2 acts in the parasite response to oxidative stress through a novel mitochondrial function that may be conserved in T. brucei.
doi:10.1016/j.molbiopara.2010.11.001
PMCID: PMC3142612  PMID: 21073906
Trypanosoma cruzi; DNA repair; MSH2; Oxidative stress; Trypanosoma brucei
8.  Genomic organization and expression profile of the mucin-associated surface protein (masp) family of the human pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(10):3407-3417.
A novel large multigene family was recently identified in the human pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi, causative agent of Chagas disease, and corresponds to ∼6% of the parasite diploid genome. The predicted gene products, mucin-associated surface proteins (MASPs), are characterized by highly conserved N- and C-terminal domains and a strikingly variable and repetitive central region. We report here an analysis of the genomic organization and expression profile of masp genes. Masps are not randomly distributed throughout the genome but instead are clustered with genes encoding mucin and other surface protein families. Masp transcripts vary in size, are preferentially expressed during the trypomastigote stage and contain highly conserved 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions. A sequence analysis of a trypomastigote cDNA library reveals the expression of multiple masp variants with a bias towards a particular masp subgroup. Immunofluorescence assays using antibodies generated against a MASP peptide reveals that the expression of particular MASPs at the cell membrane is limited to subsets of the parasite population. Western blots of phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC)-treated parasites suggest that MASP may be GPI-anchored and shed into the medium culture, thus contributing to the large repertoire of parasite polypeptides that are exposed to the host immune system.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkp172
PMCID: PMC2691823  PMID: 19336417
9.  Ancestral Genomes, Sex, and the Population Structure of Trypanosoma cruzi 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(3):e24.
Acquisition of detailed knowledge of the structure and evolution of Trypanosoma cruzi populations is essential for control of Chagas disease. We profiled 75 strains of the parasite with five nuclear microsatellite loci, 24Sα RNA genes, and sequence polymorphisms in the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit II gene. We also used sequences available in GenBank for the mitochondrial genes cytochrome B and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1. A multidimensional scaling plot (MDS) based in microsatellite data divided the parasites into four clusters corresponding to T. cruzi I (MDS-cluster A), T. cruzi II (MDS-cluster C), a third group of T. cruzi strains (MDS-cluster B), and hybrid strains (MDS-cluster BH). The first two clusters matched respectively mitochondrial clades A and C, while the other two belonged to mitochondrial clade B. The 24Sα rDNA and microsatellite profiling data were combined into multilocus genotypes that were analyzed by the haplotype reconstruction program PHASE. We identified 141 haplotypes that were clearly distributed into three haplogroups (X, Y, and Z). All strains belonging to T. cruzi I (MDS-cluster A) were Z/Z, the T. cruzi II strains (MDS-cluster C) were Y/Y, and those belonging to MDS-cluster B (unclassified T. cruzi) had X/X haplogroup genotypes. The strains grouped in the MDS-cluster BH were X/Y, confirming their hybrid character. Based on these results we propose the following minimal scenario for T. cruzi evolution. In a distant past there were at a minimum three ancestral lineages that we may call, respectively, T. cruzi I, T. cruzi II, and T. cruzi III. At least two hybridization events involving T. cruzi II and T. cruzi III produced evolutionarily viable progeny. In both events, the mitochondrial recipient (as identified by the mitochondrial clade of the hybrid strains) was T. cruzi II and the mitochondrial donor was T. cruzi III.
Synopsis
The parasite protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease, a malady that afflicts almost 20 million people in South America and Central America. Although the genome sequencing of T. cruzi has been recently completed, little is known about its population structure and evolution. Since 1999, two major evolutionary lineages presenting distinct epidemiological characteristics have been recognized in the parasite: T. cruzi I and T. cruzi II, the latter being much more associated with severe chronic cases of the disease. We describe new and important aspects of the population structure of the parasite, especially the characterization of a third ancestral lineage that we propose to call T. cruzi III. Through careful dissection of the genetic constitution of blocks of genes that are stably transmitted from generation to generation of the parasite we deduced at least two occurrences of the formation of hybrid strains from the parental lineages T. cruzi II and T. cruzi III, including the strain CLBrener, whose genome was sequenced. We did not find any hybrids originating from T. cruzi I. A fascinating finding was that both hybrids studied had the same mitochondrial DNA type as the T. cruzi III ancestral lineage, which was quite different from T.cruzi II.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0020024
PMCID: PMC1434789  PMID: 16609729
10.  Swine and Poultry Pathogens: the Complete Genome Sequences of Two Strains of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and a Strain of Mycoplasma synoviae†  
Vasconcelos, Ana Tereza R. | Ferreira, Henrique B. | Bizarro, Cristiano V. | Bonatto, Sandro L. | Carvalho, Marcos O. | Pinto, Paulo M. | Almeida, Darcy F. | Almeida, Luiz G. P. | Almeida, Rosana | Alves-Filho, Leonardo | Assunção, Enedina N. | Azevedo, Vasco A. C. | Bogo, Maurício R. | Brigido, Marcelo M. | Brocchi, Marcelo | Burity, Helio A. | Camargo, Anamaria A. | Camargo, Sandro S. | Carepo, Marta S. | Carraro, Dirce M. | de Mattos Cascardo, Júlio C. | Castro, Luiza A. | Cavalcanti, Gisele | Chemale, Gustavo | Collevatti, Rosane G. | Cunha, Cristina W. | Dallagiovanna, Bruno | Dambrós, Bibiana P. | Dellagostin, Odir A. | Falcão, Clarissa | Fantinatti-Garboggini, Fabiana | Felipe, Maria S. S. | Fiorentin, Laurimar | Franco, Gloria R. | Freitas, Nara S. A. | Frías, Diego | Grangeiro, Thalles B. | Grisard, Edmundo C. | Guimarães, Claudia T. | Hungria, Mariangela | Jardim, Sílvia N. | Krieger, Marco A. | Laurino, Jomar P. | Lima, Lucymara F. A. | Lopes, Maryellen I. | Loreto, Élgion L. S. | Madeira, Humberto M. F. | Manfio, Gilson P. | Maranhão, Andrea Q. | Martinkovics, Christyanne T. | Medeiros, Sílvia R. B. | Moreira, Miguel A. M. | Neiva, Márcia | Ramalho-Neto, Cicero E. | Nicolás, Marisa F. | Oliveira, Sergio C. | Paixão, Roger F. C. | Pedrosa, Fábio O. | Pena, Sérgio D. J. | Pereira, Maristela | Pereira-Ferrari, Lilian | Piffer, Itamar | Pinto, Luciano S. | Potrich, Deise P. | Salim, Anna C. M. | Santos, Fabrício R. | Schmitt, Renata | Schneider, Maria P. C. | Schrank, Augusto | Schrank, Irene S. | Schuck, Adriana F. | Seuanez, Hector N. | Silva, Denise W. | Silva, Rosane | Silva, Sérgio C. | Soares, Célia M. A. | Souza, Kelly R. L. | Souza, Rangel C. | Staats, Charley C. | Steffens, Maria B. R. | Teixeira, Santuza M. R. | Urmenyi, Turan P. | Vainstein, Marilene H. | Zuccherato, Luciana W. | Simpson, Andrew J. G. | Zaha, Arnaldo
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(16):5568-5577.
This work reports the results of analyses of three complete mycoplasma genomes, a pathogenic (7448) and a nonpathogenic (J) strain of the swine pathogen Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and a strain of the avian pathogen Mycoplasma synoviae; the genome sizes of the three strains were 920,079 bp, 897,405 bp, and 799,476 bp, respectively. These genomes were compared with other sequenced mycoplasma genomes reported in the literature to examine several aspects of mycoplasma evolution. Strain-specific regions, including integrative and conjugal elements, and genome rearrangements and alterations in adhesin sequences were observed in the M. hyopneumoniae strains, and all of these were potentially related to pathogenicity. Genomic comparisons revealed that reduction in genome size implied loss of redundant metabolic pathways, with maintenance of alternative routes in different species. Horizontal gene transfer was consistently observed between M. synoviae and Mycoplasma gallisepticum. Our analyses indicated a likely transfer event of hemagglutinin-coding DNA sequences from M. gallisepticum to M. synoviae.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.16.5568-5577.2005
PMCID: PMC1196056  PMID: 16077101

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