Use of a novel DNA melting profile assay for the identification of PCR-amplified genomic sequences encoding for variant-specific surface proteins from the clonal GS/M-83-H7 line of Giardia lamblia

Parasitol Res. 2001 Dec;87(12):1011-5. doi: 10.1007/s004360100490.


During infections, Giardia lamblia undergoes a continuous change of its major surface antigens, the variant-specific surface proteins (VSPs). Many studies on antigenic variation have been performed using G. lamblia clone GS/M-83-H7, which expresses surface antigen VSP H7. The present study was focused on the identification and characterization of vsp gene sequences within the genome of the clonal G. lamblia GS/M-83-H7 line. For this purpose, we applied a PCR which specifically amplified truncated sequences from the 3'-terminal region of the vsp genes. Upon cloning, most of the vsp gene amplification products were shown to be approximately identical in size and thus could not be distinguished from each other by conventional gel electrophoresis. In order to pre-estimate the sequence complexity within the large panel of vsp clones isolated, we elaborated a novel concept which facilitated our large-scale genetic screening approach: PCR products from cloned DNA molecules were generated and then subjected to a DNA melting profile assay based on the use of the LightCycler Instrument. This high-throughput assay system proved to be well suited to monitor sequence differences between the amplification products from closely related vsp genes and thus could be used for the primary, sequence-related discrimination of the corresponding clones. After testing 50 candidates, vsp clones could be divided into five groups, each characterized by an individual DNA melting profile of the corresponding amplification products. Sequence analysis of some of these 50 candidates confirmed data from the aforementioned assay in that clones were demonstrated to be identical within, but different between, the distinct groups. The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of five representative vsp clones showed high similarities both among each other and also with the corresponding gene segment of the variant-specific surface antigen (VSP H7) expressed by the original GS/M-83-H7 variant type. Furthermore, three of the genomic vsp sequences turned out to be identical to vsp sequences that represented previously characterized transcription products from in vivo- or in vitro-switched GS/M-83-H7 trophozoites. In conclusion, the DNA melting profile assay seems to be a versatile tool for the PCR-based genotyping of moderately or highly diversified sequence orthologues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics*
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Genome, Protozoan
  • Genotype
  • Giardia lamblia / classification*
  • Giardia lamblia / genetics*
  • Giardiasis / parasitology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Denaturation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Protozoan Proteins*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • variant surface protein H7, Giardia lamblia