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

Antigenic variation in trypanosomes: secrets surface slowly.

Among pathogenic micro-organisms that evade the mammalian immune responses. Trypanosoma brucei has developed the most elaborate capacity for antigenic variation. Trypanosomes branched early during eukaryotic evolution. They are characterized by many aberrations, ranging from the unusual compartmentation of metabolic pathways to the heresy of RNA editing. The ubiquitous phenomenon of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchoring of eukaryotic plasma membrane proteins and RNA trans-splicing (trypanosome genes contain no introns), which adds an identical leader sequence to all trypanosome mRNAs, were first defined during studies of antigenic variation. Genetic transformation of trypanosomes and the high efficiency of gene targeting provide new opportunities to investigate the regulation of antigenic variation. There is every reason to expect trypanosomes to provide further surprises and insights into the evolution of genetic regulatory mechanisms.[1]


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