DNA recombination strategies during antigenic variation in the African Trypanosome

McCulloch, R. , Morrison, L. J. and Hall, J. P.J. (2015) DNA recombination strategies during antigenic variation in the African Trypanosome. In: Craig, N. L., Chandler, M., Gellert, M., Lambowitz, A. M., Rice, P. A. and Sandmeyer, S. B. (eds.) Mobile DNA III. ASM Press: Washington, DC, pp. 409-435. ISBN 9781555819200 (doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0016-2014)

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One of the most powerful drivers of evolutionary change is the process of adaptation and counter-adaptation by interacting species ( 1 ). The so-called “arms race” between parasites and their hosts is a prime example of such reciprocal coevolution: host adaptations that reduce or attempt to remove parasites select for parasite adaptations that enable evasion of host defences. Elaborate, powerful and sometimes elegant mechanisms of host immunity and parasite infectivity are thought to have arisen from many iterations of this process. A case in point is the mammalian adaptive immune system, perhaps one of the more complex host defence mechanisms detailed to date, which uses directed DNA rearrangements, mutagenesis and selection during the development of T and B immune cells to generate vast numbers of genes encoding immunoglobulin receptors capable of recognizing the huge range of antigens in infecting pathogens ( 2 ). Parasites, on the other hand, have evolved various means of evading adaptive immunity. One such mechanism of immune evasion that is widely recorded among viruses and bacterial and eukaryotic pathogens is antigenic variation. Because parasite killing often depends on a match between circulating host immunity and parasite antigen, individual parasites that no longer express that antigen variant, but instead express an antigenically different variant in its place, survive and can proliferate. However, this advantage tends to be short-lived because immune responses will develop against the different antigen in turn. Hence, members of parasite lineages inhabiting an immunocompetent host are repeatedly being selected for antigenic novelty over the course of infection.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morrison, Dr Liam and McCulloch, Professor Richard
Authors: McCulloch, R., Morrison, L. J., and Hall, J. P.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Publisher:ASM Press

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