We have cloned and characterized the gene for an immunodominant antigen of O. volvulus that is recognized by the sera of 96% of patients with onchocerciasis. Its 1.2-kb mRNA constitutes 0.3% of adult worm poly(A)+ RNA and its cDNA sequence reveals that it is not a highly conserved structural protein such as actin or tubulin. Similar but not identical genes occur in the genomes of related filarie, Brugia malayi and Dirofilaria immitis. The recombinant antigen has both immunodiagnostic and immunoprophylactic significance.
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