Control of VSG gene expression sites

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2001 Apr 25;114(1):17-27. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(01)00243-2.


Trypanosoma brucei survives in mammals by antigenic variation of its surface coat consisting of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG). Trypanosomes change coat mainly by replacing the transcribed VSG genes in an active telomeric expression site by a different VSG gene. There are about 20 different expression sites and trypanosomes can also change coat by switching the site that is active. This review summarizes recent work on the mechanism of site switching and on the way inactive expression sites are kept silent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Protozoan
  • Humans
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / physiology
  • Variant Surface Glycoproteins, Trypanosoma / genetics*


  • Variant Surface Glycoproteins, Trypanosoma