Switching trypanosome coats: what's in the wardrobe?

Jesse E. Taylor, Gloria Rudenko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

135 Scopus citations


The African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei is best known for its extraordinarily sophisticated antigenic variation of a protective variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat. T. brucei has >1000 VSG genes and pseudogenes, of which one is transcribed at a time from one of multiple telomeric VSG expression sites. Switching the active VSG gene can involve DNA rearrangements replacing the old VSG with a new one, or alternatively transcriptional control. The astonishing revelation from the T. brucei genome sequence is that <7% of the sequenced VSGs seem to have fully functional coding regions. This preponderance of pseudogenes in the VSG gene repertoire will necessitate a rethink of how antigenic variation in African trypanosomes operates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-620
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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