What is it about?

An intriguing and remarkable feature of African trypanosomes is their antigenic variation system, mediated by the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) family and fundamental to both immune evasion and disease epidemiology within host populations. Recent studies have revealed that the VSG repertoire has a complex evolutionary history. Sequence diversity, genomic organization, and expression patterns are species-specific, which may explain other variations in parasite virulence and disease pathology. Evidence also shows that we may be underestimating the extent to what VSGs are repurposed beyond their roles as variant antigens, establishing a need to examine VSG functionality more deeply.

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Why is it important?

Here, we review sequence variation within the VSG gene family, and highlight the many opportunities to explore their likely diverse contributions to parasite survival.

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This page is a summary of: Evolution of the variant surface glycoprotein family in African trypanosomes, Trends in Parasitology, January 2022, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.pt.2021.07.012.
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