Author(s): Burns JM Jr
A gene sequence encoding an immunodominant protein with a repetitive epitope from the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, was cloned and expressed. The identified 10-amino acid repeat is present within a high-molecular-weight trypomastigote antigen that appears specific to and conserved among T. cruzi isolates. More importantly, greater than 95% of T. cruzi infection sera, including both chronic and acute Chagas disease, contained elevated levels of antibody to a 15-amino acid synthetic peptide bearing the repetitive B-cell epitope. Considering the wide diversity of T. cruzi parasites, as well as the broad spectrum of clinical manifestations of Chagas disease, such a prevalent immune response among patients is significant and applicable to the control of Chagas disease through the diagnosis of T. cruzi infection.