Volume 54, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



An expression library was differentially screened to identify a molecular marker distinguishing sowda (lichenified onchodermatitis) from other onchocerciasis forms. One clone, PG3, was recognized by pooled sera from patients with sowda, but not by pooled sera from patients with generalized onchocerciasis; it was not recognized by sera from patients with lymphatic filariasis or other helminth infections. The DNA of PG3 hybridized strongly with RI-digested DNA, but not with DNA from spp., spp., and humans. A weak reaction was observed with DNA from and . The PG3 DNA sequence showed a high homology with both human and nematode collagens. Confirmation of the collagen-like nature of the sowda-specific PG3 product was obtained by amino terminal sequencing of the PG3 expression product, as well as by demonstrating its suceptibility to collagenase digestion. The characteristic recognition of the collagen specified by clone PG3 was confirmed by measuring antibody levels to the expressed product in individual sowda and generalized onchocerciasis sera, respectively. Identification of a nematode collagen antigen mainly recognized in sowda patients raises the possibility that this extreme form of dermatitis might arise through cross-reactivity between anti- collagen antibodies and human collagen. However, a relationship between the PG3 recognition by antibodies and the sowda pathogenesis could not be demonstrated.


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