Journal of immunological methods

Using T. brucei as a biological epitope-display platform to elicit specific antibody responses.

PMID 20800596


The African trypanosome (Trypanosoma brucei) is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse vector to the mammalian bloodstream where it exists as a completely extracellular parasite. As a result of this exposure, the parasite elicits a robust immune response that is almost exclusively antibody mediated, and is extremely specific to the trypanosome coat displayed on the surface. This coat is comprised of ~11 million copies of a single gpi-linked molecule (the variable surface glycoprotein or VSG) and can therefore be used as a powerful platform for the immunogenic display of antigenic determinants. Here we describe a method to display repetitive, ordered arrays of linear epitopes on the surface of T. brucei and to then use the engineered organisms to generate specific anti-epitope antibody responses, upon injection into mice. This method offers an alternative approach to generating anti-peptide antibodies, and could be a useful option in cases where more traditional methods have failed.