Trypanosoma brucei brucei: Antigenic stability of its LDL receptor and immunological cross-reactivity with the LDL receptor of the mammalian host

I. Coppens, Ph Bastin, F. R. Opperdoes, P. Baudhuin, P. J. Courtoy

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The rapid growth of Trypanosoma brucei brucei in the blood and tissue fluids of vertebrates requires the receptor-mediated endocytosis of LDL from the host (Coppens et al. 1987; Gillett and Owen 1987) and is slowed by a monospecific rabbit antiserum against the purified LDL receptor of the parasite. We have used this antiserum in combination with several well-characterized antigenic variants (originating from stock 427: MITat 1.1a, 1.3a, 1.4a, 1.5a, 1.5d, 1.8b) to examine whether the LDL receptor of T. b. brucei is a stable surface antigen, common to all parasite variants despite antigenic variation of the major surface glycoprotein, and whether it is immunologically distinct from the LDL receptor of the host. At low concentrations, binding at 4 °C of rat LDL to several variants of T. b. brucei and to isolated rat hepatocytes was inhibited to a similar extent by the antiserum. In double immunodiffusion, a single precipitation line was observed, showing continuity between the extracts of all variants as well as between that of trypanosomes and of mammalian tissues. In Western blots of trypanosome extracts, the LDL receptor was strongly labeled as a single band of Mr 145,000, whereas with a rat liver extract, a single band of similar electrophoretic mobility was weakly labeled at a high concentration of the antiserum. In conclusion, the LDL receptor occurred in all variants of T. b. brucei, was a stable surface antigen despite variation of the major surface glycoprotein, and displayed biochemical and immunological similarities with the LDL receptor of the rat host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes



  • Plasma membrane antigen
  • Protozoa, parasite
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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