Studying trypanosomal peptidase antigen targets for the diagnosis of animal African trypanosomiasis.
Eyssen, Lauren Elizabeth-Ann.
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The lack of a vaccine candidate due to antigenic variation by trypanosomal parasites, the causative agents of human and animal African trypanosomiasis, requires the disease to be controlled by surveillance, diagnosis and appropriate treatment schedules. Due to the non-specific symptoms along with the toxicity and side effects of the current trypanocides, diagnosis needs to be accurate, cost effective and applicable to active case finding in mostly rural settings. Trypanosomal proteases have been identified as virulence factors as they are essential to the parasites‟ survival. Here the diagnostic potential of previously described virulence factors, oligopeptidase B (OPB), pyroglutamyl peptidase (PGP) and the full length and catalytic domain of the cathepsin L-like peptidases (CATLFL and CATL respectively) from T. congolense (Tc) as well as OPB and CATL from T. vivax (Tv), was determined. These antigens were recombinantly expressed, purified and used to generate antibodies in chickens. The purified recombinant antigens were tested in an inhibition and indirect ELISA format using two separate blinded serum panels consisting of sera from non-infected and experimentally infected cattle, one each for T. congolense and for T. vivax. The tested sera were diluted 1:10 for the TcCATLFL, TcCATL antigens whilst the TvCATL antigen used a 1:100 serum dilution. The TcCATLFL, TcCATL and TvCATL antigens had the highest diagnostic potential in the indirect ELISA format with a 90.91, 92.21% accuracy at the second cut-off and a 77.22% accuracy at the third cut-off along with 0.8084, 0.7785 and 0.8813 area under curve (AUC) values respectively. These antigens show potential for development of lateral flow tests to detect T. congolense and T. vivax infections in cattle. The recently discovered metacaspases (MCAs) have been implicated in caspase-like activity and differentiation in T. b. brucei, T. cruzi and L. major and are considered to be virulence factors. The putative metacaspase 5 gene from T. congolense (TcMCA5) was successfully cloned, expressed within inclusion bodies, resolubilised and refolded using immobilised metal affinity chromatography. Recombinant TcMCA5 was successfully refolded as evident by the hydrolysis of the synthetic peptide substrate, Z-Gly-Gly-Arg-AMC. Autocatalytic processing was observed within the inclusion bodies and the products were purified along with the full length recombinant protein. Anti-TcMCA5 IgY antibodies, raised in chickens, were able to detect the native TcMCA5 along with the autocatalytic processed products within the lysate of the procyclic T. congolense (strain IL 3000) parasites. The diagnostic potential of TcMCA5 still requires verification.