INTRODUCTION Recombinant and synthetic peptide technology has allowed new approaches to the study of parasitic diseases. A major benefit of these advances is the ease with which entire genes can be isolated and sequenced at the nucleotide level. This information can help answer questions on genomic organization and evolution. Moreover, we can deduce the entire amino acid sequence of a particular protein without having sufficient protein to visualize on an acrylamide gel. The challenge of translating the nucleotide sequence into a biologically relevant and functional protein remains.
We intend to focus attention on a particular way to accomplish that translation, i.e., the use of polypeptides derived from the deduced sequence to probe or model a function or property of the protein. It is often easier to obtain large amounts of relatively pure recombinant or synthetic polypeptides than of the original protein. Caveats about the use of such peptides cannot be overstated.