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Parasitol Res. 1992;78(8):661-4.

The relationship of variable antigen expression and population growth rates in Trypanosoma brucei.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow, UK.


The relationship between variable antigen type (VAT) expression and trypanosome growth rates was investigated. Growth rates in mice were compared between pairs of cloned trypanosome populations, each of which homogeneously expressed a different VAT. All three pairwise combinations of GUTats (Glasgow University Trypanozoon antigen types) 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5 were analysed twice and all three combinations of GUTats 8.2, 8.3 and 8.4 were compared once. The lines expressing different VATs were of the same passage history within each group. In a sensitive assay of relative growth, no significant differences were found in four of six experiments using GUTats 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5 or in one of three experiments using GUTats 8.2, 8.3 and 8.4. In the experiments in which differences were observed, the data were analysed further to compare the population doubling times of lines. These times differed by less than 10% in all cases. We conclude that variable antigen expression exerts a small (possibly negligible) effect on rates of trypanosome population growth.

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