Intraspecific Epitopic Variation in a Carbohydrate Antigen Exposed on the Surface of Trichostrongylus colubriformis Infective L3 Larvae Academic Article uri icon


  • The carbohydrate larval antigen, CarLA, is present on the exposed surface of all strongylid nematode infective L3 larvae tested, and antibodies against CarLA can promote rapid immune rejection of incoming Trichostrongylus colubriformis larvae in sheep. A library of ovine recombinant single chain Fv (scFv) antibody fragments, displayed on phage, was prepared from B cell mRNA of field-immune sheep. Phage displaying scFvs that bind to the surface of living exsheathed T. colubriformis L3 larvae were identified, and the majority of worm-binding scFvs recognized CarLA. Characterization of greater than 500 worm surface binding phage resulted in the identification of nine different anti-CarLA scFvs that recognized three distinct T. colubriformis CarLA epitopes based on blocking and additive ELISA. All anti-CarLA scFvs were specific to the T. colubriformis species of nematode. Each of the three scFv epitope classes displayed identical Western blot recognition patterns and recognized the exposed surface of living T. colubriformis exsheathed L3 larvae. Surprisingly, each of the anti-CarLA scFvs was able to bind to only a subset of worms. Double-labelling indirect immunofluorescence revealed that the three classes of anti-CarLA scFvs recognize distinct, non-overlapping, T. colubriformis sub-populations. These results demonstrate that individual T. colubriformis L3 larvae display only one of at least three distinct antigenic forms of CarLA on their surface at any given time, and suggest that antigenic variation within CarLA is likely a mechanism of immune evasion in strongylid nematodes.


  • Maass, David R
  • Harrison, Gavin B
  • Grant, Warwick N
  • Hein, Wayne R
  • Shoemaker, Charles B

publication date

  • September 1, 2009