Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Nature. 2009 May 14;459(7244):278-81. doi: 10.1038/nature07982. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

A yeast-endonuclease-generated DNA break induces antigenic switching in Trypanosoma brucei.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10065, USA.

Abstract

Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of African sleeping sickness in humans and one of the causes of nagana in cattle. This protozoan parasite evades the host immune system by antigenic variation, a periodic switching of its variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat. VSG switching is spontaneous and occurs at a rate of about 10(-2)-10(-3) per population doubling in recent isolates from nature, but at a markedly reduced rate (10(-5)-10(-6)) in laboratory-adapted strains. VSG switching is thought to occur predominantly through gene conversion, a form of homologous recombination initiated by a DNA lesion that is used by other pathogens (for example, Candida albicans, Borrelia sp. and Neisseria gonorrhoeae) to generate surface protein diversity, and by B lymphocytes of the vertebrate immune system to generate antibody diversity. Very little is known about the molecular mechanism of VSG switching in T. brucei. Here we demonstrate that the introduction of a DNA double-stranded break (DSB) adjacent to the approximately 70-base-pair (bp) repeats upstream of the transcribed VSG gene increases switching in vitro approximately 250-fold, producing switched clones with a frequency and features similar to those generated early in an infection. We were also able to detect spontaneous DSBs within the 70-bp repeats upstream of the actively transcribed VSG gene, indicating that a DSB is a natural intermediate of VSG gene conversion and that VSG switching is the result of the resolution of this DSB by break-induced replication.

PMID:
19369939
PMCID:
PMC2688456
DOI:
10.1038/nature07982
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center