A comparison of gene content and genome architecture of Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania major, three related pathogens with different life cycles and disease pathology, revealed a conserved core proteome of about 6200 genes in large syntenic polycistronic gene clusters. Many species-specific genes, especially large surface antigen families, occur at nonsyntenic chromosome-internal and subtelomeric regions. Retroelements, structural RNAs, and gene family expansion are often associated with syntenic discontinuities that-along with gene divergence, acquisition and loss, and rearrangement within the syntenic regions-have shaped the genomes of each parasite. Contrary to recent reports, our analyses reveal no evidence that these species are descended from an ancestor that contained a photosynthetic endosymbiont.
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