Distinct, developmental stage-specific activation mechanisms of trypanosome VSG genes

S V Graham, K R Matthews, P G Shiels, J D Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The metacyclic form of African trypanosomes is the first to express genes for the Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG) and it uses an unusually predictable subset of the VSG gene repertoire. We have developed a model system for the analysis of metacyclic VSG (M-VSG) gene expression and have used this to demonstrate that, for two M-VSG genes, different modes of expression operate in the insect and mammalian phases of the life-cycle. In metacyclic-derived clones, these genes are expressed in situ, whereas they are routinely activated by duplication in bloodstream trypanosomes. The expression loci for both M-VSG genes studied are structurally simple and we present a model, based on this, for the maintenance of a separate M-VSG repertoire and expression system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-7
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • antigenic variation
  • Trypanosoma brucei
  • metacyclic VSG


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