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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Jul 1;89(13):5986-90.

Cloning of a cuticular antigen that contains multiple tandem repeats from the filarial parasite Dirofilaria immitis.

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Molecular Parasitology Division, New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA 01915.


An unusual antigen composed of tandemly repeated protein units was cloned from the filarial parasite Dirofilaria immitis. The antigen was initially identified by screening a lambda gt11 cDNA library with serum from dogs immunized with irradiated D. immitis third-stage larvae. DNA sequence analysis of the cDNA clone, Di5, revealed a continuous open reading frame composed of two 399-base-pair repeats arranged in tandem. Southern blot analysis of genomic D. immitis DNA showed that the gene coding for Di5 is composed of a tandem array of 25-50 copies of this same 399-base-pair repeat. Antiserum raised against recombinant Di5 protein detected a protein "ladder," from about 14 to greater than 200 kDa with steps approximately 15 kDa apart, on immunoblots of D. immitis extract. Metabolic labeling of adult parasites with [35S]methionine showed that Di5 is synthesized as a large precursor that is subsequently cleaved to produce the ladder-like array. These results suggest that the characteristic ladder is created by proteolytic cleavage of the precursor at the same site in each monomer. The Di5 antigen was localized to the cuticle and hypodermis of adult D. immitis by immunoelectron microscopy. Both male and female parasites were found to release Di5 when cultured in vitro. DNA hybridization analysis demonstrated that Di5 is a member of a gene family present in many filarial parasites that infect both animal and human populations.

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