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Trypanosomatid protozoa are parasites of considerable medical and economical importance because they are
the causative agents of chronic human and livestock diseases endemic in developing countries. Trypanosoma cruzi is the
causative agent of Chagas´ disease, present in most of Latin America. The biology of this parasite presents some unusual
features, one of which is the mechanism employed for the addition of sialic acid units to its own glycoproteins, the mucinlike
molecules, or to exogenous glycoconjugates. This is mediated by a transglycosylase for sialic acid known as transsialidase
and located on the external surface of the parasite, rather than by an intracellular CMP-sialic acid-dependent sialyltransferase.
The Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of Chagas’
disease, and it represents a potential therapeutic target.