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Identification of Toxoplasma gondii antigens associated with different types of infection by serum antibody profiling


Acquisition of acute toxoplasmosis during the first trimester of pregnancy can have catastrophic consequences for the foetus. Diagnosis is routinely based on the detection of maternal Toxoplasma gondii--antibodies using whole parasite extracts as detection antigen. While such assays are sensitive, they show no specificity for the stage of infection. We hypothesized diagnosis might be improved using recombinant antigens for detection, particularly if antibodies to certain antigen(s) were associated with early or late stages of infection. To address this, protein microarrays comprising 1513 T. gondii exon products were probed with well-characterized sera from seronegative ('N') controls, and acute ('A'), chronic/IgM-persisting ('C/M') and chronic ('C') toxoplasmosis cases from Turkey. Three reactive exon products recognized preferentially in A infections, and three recognized preferentially in C/M infections, were expressed in Escherichia coli and tested for discrimination in IgG ELISAs. The best discriminators were exon 1 of TGME49_086450 (GRA5) which detected C/M infections with 70.6% sensitivity and 81.8% specificity, and exon 6 of TGME49_095700 (ubiquitin transferase domain-containing protein) which detected A infections with 84.8% sensitivity and 82.4% specificity. Overall, the data support a recombinant protein approach for the development of improved serodiagnostic tests for toxoplasmosis.

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