Antigens provoke a response from the host immune system. Could selective pressures result in microbes losing their antigens? Has this been observed? Or are antigens typically so important that they are constrained from losing them?

  • $\begingroup$ Hiya. I find the last sentence a bit confusing and don't really know what you mean by it.. However, I interpret your question as whether there are any selective pressures that would lead microbes to lose/hide their antigenicity. If my interpretation is correct then, yes, that happens / has happened. S. aureus is probably the most famous example.. Antigenic variation as well as antigenic disguises are two "ways" a microbe can escape the host immune system. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Apr 2 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, that answers my question! Sorry I was not clearer in the last point. What I meant was, are there certain antigens that are so functionally important to the microbe that they cannot be lost? And what would an example of such an antigen? $\endgroup$ – Nick Chadsbury Apr 3 at 2:40

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