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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Antigenic variation in pneumocystis.

Pneumocystis is a genus containing many species of non-culturable fungi, each of which infects a different mammalian host. Pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis is a problem in immunodeficient humans, but not in normal humans. Nevertheless, it appears that Pneumocystis organisms cannot survive and proliferate outside of their mammalian hosts, suggesting that Pneumocystis parasitizes immunocompetent mammals. Residence in immunocompetent hosts may rely on camouflage perpetrated by antigenic variation. In P. carinii, which is found in rats, there exist three families of genes that appear to be designed to create antigenic variation. One gene family, which encodes the major surface glycoprotein (MSG), contains nearly 100 members. Expression of the MSG family is controlled by restricting transcription to the one gene that is linked to a unique expression site. Changes in the sequence of the MSG gene linked to the expression site occur and appear to be caused by recombination with MSG genes not at the expression site. Preliminary evidence suggests that gene conversion is the predominant recombination mechanism.[1]


  1. Antigenic variation in pneumocystis. Stringer, J.R. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. (2007) [Pubmed]
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