Research Article

Identification and characterization of two repetitive non-variable antigens from African trypanosomes which are recognized early during infection

N. Müllera1, A. Hemphilla1, M. Imbodena1, G. Duvalleta2, R. H. Dwingera3 and T. Seebecka1

a1 Institute of General Microbiology, University of Berne, Baltzerstrasse 4, 3012 Berne, Switzerland

a2 Centre de Recherches sur les Trypanosomes Animales (CRTA), BP 454, Bobo-Dioulasso 01, Burkina Faso

a3 International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC), PMB 14, Banjul, The, Gambia


The present paper describes two repetitive proteins representing common antigens of African trypanosomes which are non-variant and which are recognized early in infection by the host immune system. These antigens were identified by their ability to immunoreact with bovine serum taken during the early phase of a cyclic trypanosomal infection. Screening of a cDNA library from T. b. gambiense with such early infection serum identified a protein which contains a repetitive motif consisting of 68 amino acid repeat units (GM6). Immunofluorescence and immunogold electron microscopy revealed that GM6 is located on fibres which connect the microtubules of the membrane skeleton with the flagellum. A second repetitive antigen detected by this serum is MARP1 (microtubule-associated repetitive protein 1), a protein previously characterized in this laboratory as a high-molecular weight component of the membrane skeleton, which consists of more than 50 tandemly repeated, near-identical 38 amino acid repeat units. Beta-galactosidase fusion products of both proteins demonstrated a strong immunoreactivity with sera from T. b. brucei and T. congolense-infected cattle. The result from this preliminary immunological evaluation indicates a high immunodiagnostic sensititivy (90%) of the two recombinant antigens which make them interesting candidates for immunodiagnosis of trypanosomiasis in cattle.

(Received April 30 1991)

(Revised August 02 1991)

(Accepted August 09 1991)