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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jan 15;90(2):775-9.

Molecular characterization of a kinesin-related antigen of Leishmania chagasi that detects specific antibody in African and American visceral leishmaniasis.

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Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, WA 98109.


We report the cloning of a Leishmania chagasi antigen gene and an evaluation of leishmaniasis patient antibody responses to the recombinant protein, rK39. rK39 contains a 39-amino acid repeat that is part of a 230-kDa protein predominant in L. chagasi tissue amastigotes. Sequence analyses showed this protein, LcKin, to be related to the kinesin superfamily of motor proteins. Southern blot analyses demonstrated LcKin-related sequences in seven species of Leishmania, with conservation of the repeat between L. chagasi and Leishmania donovani. Serological evaluation revealed that 98% (56 of 57) of Brazilian and 100% (52 of 52) of Sudanese visceral leishmaniasis patients have high antibody levels to the rK39 repeat. Detectable anti-K39 antibody was virtually absent in cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis patients and in individuals infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. The data show that rK39 may replace crude parasite antigens as a basis for serological diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis.

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