The biological and practical significance of antigenic variability in protective T cell responses against Theileria parva

W I Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The evolution of antigenically distinct pathogen strains that fail to cross-protect is well documented for pathogens controlled primarily by humoral immune responses. Unlike antibodies, which recognise native proteins, protective T cells can potentially recognise epitopes in a variety of proteins that are not necessarily displayed on the pathogen surface. Moreover, individual hosts of different MHC genotypes generally respond to different sets of epitopes. It is therefore less easy to envisage how strain restricted immunity can arise for pathogens controlled by T cell responses, particularly in antigenically complex parasites. Nevertheless, strain restricted immunity is clearly a feature of a number of parasitic infections, where immunity is known to be mediated by T cell responses. One such parasite is Theileria parva which induces potent CD8 T cell responses that play an important role in immunity. CD8 T cells specific for parasitized lymphoblasts exhibit strain specificity, which appears to correlate with the ability of parasite strains to cross-protect. Studies using recently identified T. parva antigens recognised by CD8 T cells have shown that the strain restricted nature of immunity is a consequence of the CD8 T cell response in individual animals being focused on a limited number of dominant polymorphic antigenic determinants. Responses in animals of different MHC genotypes are often directed to different parasite antigens, indicating that, at the host population level, a larger number of parasite proteins can serve as targets for the protective T cell response. Nevertheless, the finding that parasite strains show overlapping antigenic profiles, probably as a consequence of sexual recombination, suggests that induction of responses to an extended but limited set of antigens in individual animals may overcome the strain restricted nature of immunity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2007

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Antigenic Variation
  • Protozoan Vaccines
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Theileria parva
  • Theileriasis


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