Parasite-specific CD4+ T cells have been shown to transfer protection against Leishmania major in susceptible BALB/c mice. An epitope-tagged expression library was used to identify the antigen recognized by a protective CD4+ T cell clone. The expression library allowed recombinant proteins made in bacteria to be captured by macrophages for presentation to T cells restricted to major histocompatibility complex class II. A conserved 36-kilodalton member of the tryptophan-aspartic acid repeat family of proteins was identified that was expressed in both stages of the parasite life cycle. A 24-kilodalton portion of this antigen protected susceptible mice when administered as a vaccine with interleukin-12 before infection.

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