- The parasite Trypanasoma cruzi is responsible for Chagas disease and its triatomine vector, Rhodnius prolixus, has a symbiotic relationship with the soil bacterium, Rhodococcus rhodnii. R. rhodnii that was previously genetically engineered to produce the anti-microbial peptide, cecropin A was co-infected with T. cruzi into R. prolixus resulting in clearance of the infectious T. cruzi in 65% of the vectors. Similar anti-microbial peptides have been isolated elsewhere and were studied for differential toxicity against T. cruzi and R. rhodnii. Of the six anti-microbial peptides tested, apidaecin, magainin II, melittin, and cecropin A were deemed potential candidates for the Chagas paratransgenic system as they were capable of killing T.cruzi at concentrations that exhibit little or no toxic effects on R. rhodnii. Subsequent treatments of T. cruzi with these peptides in pair-wise combinations resulted in synergistic killing, indicating that improvement of the 65% parasite clearance seen in previous experiments may be possible utilizing combinations of different anti-microbial peptides.Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.