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

Biochemical and immunological characterization of the variant surface coat glycoprotein shed by African trypanosomes.

As the variant surface coat glycoprotein (VSG) was shed from Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense into the blood of infected rats, it was biochemically characterized and compared with VSG that had been purified from trypanosomal homogenates. To determine if VSG was in association with lipid, membranes and lipoproteins in plasma of infected rats ( IRP), VSG isolated from plasma (PVSG), and VSG isolated from trypanosomal homogenates (HVSG) were all concentrated by ultracentrifugation and assayed for the presence of VSG by radial immunodiffusion (minimum level of detection, 25 micrograms/ml) and by immunoelectroblots (minimum level of detection, 1 microgram/ml). Crimson red was used to detect lipid (minimum level of detection, 10 micrograms per sample) in electrophoresed samples. The VSG was neither concentrated with membrane or lipoprotein fractions nor stained by lipid crimson. Lipids from normal rat plasma, IRP, trypanosomal homogenates, HVSG, and PVSG were also extracted and separated by thin-layer chromatography (minimum level of detection, 20 micrograms of trypanosomal phospholipid per sample). The trypanosomal homogenates had five bands as detected by iodine vapors, of which three were phospholipids as detected by molybdenum blue. Both normal rat plasma and IRP had identical patterns of bands with a single phospholipid. The PVSG had one neutral lipid contaminant that apparently was not physically associated with the shed surface coat. The HVSG contained no lipids at all. Therefore, no evidence was obtained to implicate an association between membranes and VSG, once the latter had been shed into the blood of infected hosts. From immunoelectroblots of denatured material, it was determined that both HVSG and PVSG had the same reduced molecular weight. From molecular sieve column chromatography, however, it was determined that VSG released during the homogenization of trypanosomes is a noncovalently linked dimer, whereas that shed in the blood is apparently a trimer. This difference in native structure made no difference in immunological effect. Administered in a regimen that mimicked what the host encounters during a first peak of parasitemia, both HVSG and PVSG induced nonspecific proliferation of splenic lymphocytes and production of unelicited antibodies without the generation of nonspecific immunosuppression. This polyclonal activation of lymphocytes was not the result of contamination by exogenous pyrogen, because the activity was lost if VSG was immunologically absorbed from plasma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


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