The dinoponeratoxin peptides from the giant antDinoponera quadricepsdisplayin vitroantitrypanosomal activity
The crude venom of the giant ant Dinoponera quadriceps is a cocktail of polypeptides and organic compounds that shows antiparasitic effects against Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. In order to investigate the venom-derived components responsible for such antitrypanosomal activity, four dinoponeratoxins (DnTxs) were identified, namely M-PONTX-Dq3a, -Dq3b, -Dq3c and -Dq4e, that are diverse in size, net charge, hydrophobicity and propensity to interact with eukaryote cell membranes. These peptides were tested against epimastigote, trypomastigote and amastigote forms of benznidazole (Bz)-resistant Y strain of T. cruzi and in mammalian host cells. The M-PONTX-Dq3a and -Dq4e inhibited all developmental forms of T. cruzi, including amastigotes, the responsible form for the maintenance of infection on chronic phase of the disease. The M-PONTX-Dq3a showed the highest selectivity index (SI) (80) and caused morphological alterations in T. cruzi, as observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and induced cell death through necrosis, as seen by multiparametric flow cytometry analysis with specific biochemical markers. Altogether, the D. quadriceps venom appears as a source for the prospection of trypanocidal peptides and the M-PONTX-Dq3a arises as a candidate among the dinoponeratoxin-related peptides in the development of compounds against Chagas disease.