Three surface antigens dominate the mucosal antibody response to gastrointestinal L3-stage strongylid nematodes in field immune sheep Academic Article uri icon


  • Although gastrointestinal nematode parasites are a major human and veterinary health problem, little is known about how the host is sometimes able to mount an effective immune rejection response. In previous work, we identified a carbohydrate larval surface antigen (CarLA) as the target of mucosal antibodies that can elicit rejection of Trichostrongylus colubriformis L3s in sheep. Here we characterise the natural mucosal antibody responses to L3s from three major strongylid gastrointestinal parasites of sheep, Trichostrongylus colubriformis, Haemonchus contortus and Teladorsagia circumcincta. The mucosal antibody repertoire of naturally field-immune sheep was displayed on bacteriophage as single-chain antibodies (scFvs) and phage were selected for the ability to bind to the surface of living L3s of the three nematode species. All nematode-binding scFvs were found to recognize one of three different antigen classes that are each found in the three strongylid species. These three antigen classes appear to represent all of the major antigens recognized on Western blots by pooled mucosal antibodies from field-immune sheep. One of the antigen classes is a heterogeneous, high molecular weight molecule that is protease-sensitive. The scFvs recognizing this surface antigen also recognize a similar antigen in all strongylids tested. A second antigen class is a protease-insensitive, low molecular weight antigen found only in sheaths and scFvs recognizing this antigen cross-react with a similar molecule found in all strongylids tested. The third surface antigen class is CarLA and all of the anti-CarLA scFvs obtained from the field-immune sheep repertoire were specific to L3s of only one species and often recognized only a subset of the worms. Thus three different L3-stage surface antigens, two that lack a protein component, dominate the natural mucosal antibody response to L3-stage gastrointestinal strongylid nematodes in sheep.

publication date

  • July 2007