Universal primers suitable to assess population dynamics reveal apparent mutually exclusive transcription of the Babesia bovis ves1alpha gene.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0880, USA.
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology (Impact Factor: 2.73). 08/2009; 166(1):47-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2009.02.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Babesia bovis is an intraerythrocytic hemoparasite of widespread distribution, which adversely affects livestock production in many regions of the world. This parasite establishes persistent infections of long duration, at least in part through rapid antigenic variation of the VESA1 protein on the infected-erythrocyte surface. To understand the dynamics of in vivo antigenic variation among the parasite population it is necessary to have sensitive and broadly applicable tools enabling monitoring of variation events in parasite antigen genes. To address this need for B. bovis, "universal" primers for the polymerase chain reaction have been designed for the ves1alpha gene, spanning from exon 2 to near the 3' end of cysteine-lysine-rich domain (CKRD) sequences in exon 3. These primers robustly amplified this segment, with minimal bias, from essentially the entire repertoire of full-length ves1alpha sequences in the B. bovis Mexico isolate genome, and are equivalently present in other isolates. On purified genomic DNA, this primer set can achieve a sensitivity of 10 genome equivalents or less. When applied to the amplification of cDNA derived from the B. bovis C9.1 clonal line evidence consistent with mutually exclusive transcription of the ves1alpha gene was obtained, concomitant with detection of numerous mutational events among members of the parasite population. These characteristics of the primers will facilitate the application of polymerase chain reaction-based methodologies to the study of B. bovis population and antigenic switching dynamics.

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