The expression-linked copy of a surface antigen gene in Trypanosoma is probably the one transcribed

Nature. 1981 Jul 16;292(5820):265-7. doi: 10.1038/292265a0.


The antigenic specificity of the living trypanosome seems to be determined by the protein component of a unique glycoprotein species covering the whole surface of the parasite. During chronic infection, a single clone of trypanosomes may successively express a large repertoire of different variable antigen types (VATs). There are probably as many genes as variant-specific antigens (VSAs) (see refs 1-3 for reviews). The expression of the genes coding for the synthesis of these antigens is linked to genomic rearrangements involving duplication of the coding sequence and transposition of the additional copy. The regulation of the expression of the VSA genes is operated at the transcriptional level. It can thus be supposed that their transcription depends on the presence of the additional, transposed copy. We report here that this additional copy is in a chromatin configuration highly sensitive to pancreatic deoxyribonuclease, suggesting that it is the transcribed one.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes
  • Kinetics
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / immunology*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Chromatin
  • Deoxyribonucleases