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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1989 May 15;34(3):221-8.

Identification of a Trypanosoma cruzi antigen that is shed during the acute phase of Chagas' disease.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas Fundación Campomar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


A Trypanosoma cruzi antigen which is shed into the culture medium by the trypomastigote stage of the parasite and detected in blood of acutely infected mice was cloned and characterized. We designate this antigen shed acute phase antigen (SAPA). Five protein bands with apparent molecular masses ranging from 160 to 200 kDa were detected by immunoblotting of plasma from infected mice and in supernatants of cultured trypomastigotes upon reaction with antibodies against SAPA. A serum obtained from a patient acutely infected with Chagas' disease revealed a similar set of polypeptides in supernatants of cultured trypomastigotes when tested by immunoblotting. SAPA seems thus to be a major shed protein during the acute period of the disease. Twenty-six of 28 sera from human acute cases of Chagas' disease tested reacted with SAPA. Conversely, only 8-10% of sera from chronic cases of the disease contained detectable levels of antibody against SAPA. Sera from rabbits infected with six different parasite strains all contained antibodies against SAPA. Antibodies against SAPA are detectable 15 days after the manifestation of acute Chagas' disease symptoms in humans and 15 days post-infection in sera from mice and rabbits. The nucleotide sequence of a genomic clone encoding the 3' end of the SAPA gene revealed the presence of 14 tandemly arranged 12-amino acid-long repeats. A 39-amino acid-long region that is very hydrophobic precedes the stop codon. Due to its early appearance it might be possible to design diagnostic assays which are based on SAPA for identification of recently infected cases of Chagas' disease.

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