Antigenic variation in the African trypanosome: molecular mechanisms and phenotypic complexity

Morrison, L. J., Marcello, L. and McCulloch, R. (2009) Antigenic variation in the African trypanosome: molecular mechanisms and phenotypic complexity. Cellular Microbiology, 11(12), pp. 1724-1734. (doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2009.01383.x)

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Antigenic variation is an immune evasion strategy that has evolved in viral, bacterial and protistan pathogens. In the African trypanosome this involves stochastic switches in the composition of a variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat, using a massive archive of silent VSG genes to change the identity of the single VSG expressed at a time. VSG switching is driven primarily by recombination reactions that move silent VSGs into specialized expression sites, though transcription-based switching can also occur. Here we discuss what is being revealed about the machinery that underlies these switching mechanisms, including what parallels can be drawn with other pathogens. In addition, we discuss how such switching reactions act in a hierarchy and contribute to pathogen survival in the face of immune attack, including the establishment and maintenance of chronic infections, leading to host-host transmission.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marcello, Dr Lucio and McCulloch, Professor Richard and Morrison, Dr Liam
Authors: Morrison, L. J., Marcello, L., and McCulloch, R.
Subjects:Q Science > QR Microbiology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Journal Name:Cellular Microbiology
ISSN (Online):1462-5822
Published Online:14 September 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
401101DNA recombination pathways and antigenic variation in trypanosoma bruceiRichard McCullochMedical Research Council (MRC)G0401553Infection Immunity and Inflammation Life Sciences