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During infection, the intestinal protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia undergoes continuous antigenic variation which is determined by diversification of the parasite's major surface antigen, named VSP (variant surface protein). One member from this protein family, VSP H7, is expressed by G. lamblia clone GS/M-83-H7. In the present study, we characterised a highly antigenic portion of VSP H7 which is positioned inside a 130 amino acid C-terminal region of the protein. This region overlaps with a cysteine-rich motif that is rather conserved within the VSP family. Detailed molecular dissection of the antigenic portion monitored a 12 amino acid peptidyl structure which constitutes a non-conformational epitope of VSP H7. In the murine host, this epitope is recognised relatively early (before day 10 p.i.) during infection and stimulates a strong intestinal immunoglobulin A response. At late infective stages (after day 10 p.i.) this immune reaction is progressively complemented by reactions against 'late' antigenic epitopes which are also located inside the 130 amino acid antigenic portion but in closer proximity to the C-terminal end of VSP H7 than the 12 amino acid epitope. Both the high antigenicity and the conserved character suggest that the 12 amino acid epitope is a key factor within the immunological interplay between G. lamblia and the experimental murine host.


M Bienz, P Wittwer, V Zimmermann, N Müller. Molecular characterisation of a predominant antigenic region of Giardia lamblia variant surface protein H7. International journal for parasitology. 2001 Jun;31(8):827-32

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PMID: 11403775

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