Mapping Antigenic Motifs in the Trypomastigote Small Surface Antigen from Trypanosoma cruzi

Virginia Balouza, Maria de los Milagros Camaraa, Gaspar E. Canepaa, Santiago J.Carmona, Romina Volcovichb, Nicolas Gonzalezb, Jaime Altchehb, Fernan Agüeroa and Carlos A. Buscagliaa.
a. Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnologicas-Instituto Tecnologico de Chascomus (IIB-INTECh), Universidad Nacional de San Martin (UNSAM), and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CoNiICET), Campus UNSAM, San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina
b. Laboratorio de Parasitologia-Chagas, Hospital de NIños Dr. Ricardo Gutiérrez, Buenos Aires, Argentina 


The trypomastigote small surface antigen (TSSA) is a mucin-like molecule from Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease, which displays amino acid polymorphisms in parasite isolates. TSSA expression is restricted to the surface of infective cell-derived trypomastigotes, where it functions as an adhesin and engages surface receptors on the host cell as a prerequisite for parasite internalization. Previous results have established TSSA-CL, the isoform encoded by the CL Brener clone, as an appealing candidate for use in serology-based diagnostics for Chagas disease. Here, we used a combination of peptide- and recombinant protein-based tools to map the antigenic structure of TSSA-CL at maximal resolution. Our results indicate the presence of different partially overlapping B-cell epitopes clustering in the central portion of TSSA-CL, which contains most of the polymorphisms found in parasite isolates. Based on these results, we assessed the serodiagnostic performance of a 21-aminoacid-long peptide that spans TSSA-CL major antigenic determinants, which was similar to the performance of the previously validated glutathione S-transferase (GST)-TSSA-CL fusion molecule. Furthermore, the tools developed for the antigenic characterization of the TSSA antigen were also used to explore other potential diagnostic applications of the anti-TSSA humoral response in Chagasic patients. Overall, our present results provide additional insights into the antigenic structure of TSSACL and support this molecule as an excellent target for molecular intervention in Chagas disease


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