Characterization of the genes specifying two metacyclic variable antigen types in Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bloodstream trypanosomes evade the immune system of their mammalian host by sequentially expressing a large number of different variable surface glycoproteins (VSGs). In contrast, metacyclic trypanosomes, the final developmental stage in the tsetse fly, express a much more restricted set of VSGs. These metacyclic VSGs are the first to be exposed to the immune system of the mammalian host after infection and may offer the potential for the eventual development of a vaccine. We have identified cDNAs for two VSGs in cDNA libraries prepared from amplified metacyclic populations of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and show that they correspond to two different metacyclic serotypes. Determination of the cDNA sequences shows that metacyclic VSG mRNAs are similar to VSG mRNAs expressed during the bloodstream stage. Southern blots demonstrate that the metacyclic VSG genes are located near chromosomal telomeres. No evidence of gene rearrangement associated with expression of these VSGs was found.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lenardo, M. J., Rice-Ficht, A. C., Kelly, G., Esser, K. M., & Donelson, J. E.

citation count

  • 59

complete list of authors

  • Lenardo, MJ||Rice-Ficht, AC||Kelly, G||Esser, KM||Donelson, JE

publication date

  • November 1984