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Abstract

Antigenic variation, a clonal phenotypic variation developed by microorganisms, involves the permanent switching of homologous, antigenically different cell surface molecules. In pathogenic microorganisms, antigenic variation is often described as a mechanism to evade the host immune system and therefore is responsible for the generation of chronic and/or recurrent infections. However, antigenic variation has also been involved in expanding host diversity and differential courses of the diseases. The intestinal protozoan parasite undergoes antigenic variation through the continuous exchange of approximately 200 variant-specific surface proteins. Here we review the principal issues regarding the significance of antigenic variation during infections, the particular features of the variant-specific surface proteins, and the current knowledge on the mechanisms that regulate this process, as well as the relevance of disrupting antigenic variation as a novel approach to design effective antiparasitic vaccines.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-micro-090110-102940
2011-07-06
2024-05-26
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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