The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas' disease, a major public health problem in Latin America and of growing concern in the United States as the number of infected immigrants increases. There is currently no testing of U.S. blood products for T. cruzi infection, and the best tests available, although highly sensitive, are not of high enough specificity to be useful for widespread screening of the blood supply in this country. Among the parasite antigens detected by sera of infected humans and mice, those in the range of 24 to 26 kDa are particularly reactive. With an aim of developing a sensitive, specific, recombinant antigen-based serologic test for T. cruzi infection, we used two antibody reagents specific for these 24- to 26-kDa antigens to isolate cDNA clones from a T. cruzi expression library. One clone was found to encode a previously characterized T. cruzi antigen, a 24-kDa flagellar calcium-binding protein (FCaBP). Recombinant FCaBP was found to be a sensitive, specific reagent for distinguishing T. cruzi-infected individuals from uninfected persons, and it therefore could potentially be used for screening purposes, especially if combined with other recombinant T. cruzi antigens that have similarly high degrees of diagnostic sensitivity and specificity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)