Trichomonas vaginalis isolates were examined for the presence of viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and the property of phenotypic variation. Only the heterogeneous isolates composed of mAb-reactive and -nonreactive organisms, as determined by indirect immunofluorescence and flow cytofluorometry, and capable of phenotypic variation possessed the dsRNA. Both the positive and negative phenotype subpopulations separated from the heterogeneous parent contained equal amounts of the dsRNA. Loss of the dsRNA upon prolonged in vitro cultivation always correlated with the lack of expression of the major immunogen. The data indicate a relationship between the presence of the dsRNA and the ability of the pathogenic human trichomonads to express immunogens on their surfaces and to undergo phenotypic variation.

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