Multiple genes encode the major surface glycoprotein of Pneumocystis carinii

J. A. Kovacs, F. Powell, J. C. Edman, B. Lundgren, A. Martinez, B. Drew, C. W. Angus

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123 Scopus citations


The major surface antigen of Pneumocystis carinii, a life-threatening opportunistic pathogen in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, is an abundant glycoprotein that functions in host-organism interactions. A monoclonal antibody to this antigen is protective in animals, and thus this antigen is a good candidate for development as a vaccine to prevent or control P. carinii infection. We have cloned and sequenced seven related but unique genes encoding the major surface glycoprotein of rat P. carinii. Partial amino acid sequencing confirmed the identity of these genes. Based on Southern blot studies using chromosomal or restricted DNA, the major surface glycoproteins are the products of a multicopy family of genes. The predicted protein has an M(r) of approximately 123,000, is relatively rich in cysteine residues (5.5%) that are very strongly conserved, and contains a well conserved hydrophobic region at the carboxyl terminus. The presence of multiple related msg genes encoding the major surface glycoprotein of P. carinii suggests that antigenic variation is a possible mechanism for evading host defenses. Further characterization of this family of genes should allow the development of novel approaches to the control of this pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6034-6040
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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