[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apicomplexan parasites are serious pathogens of animals and man that cause diseases including coccidiosis, malaria and toxoplasmosis. The importance of these parasites has prompted the establishment of genomic resources in support of developing effective control strategies. For the Eimeria species resources have developed most rapidly for the reference Eimeria tenella Houghton strain (http://www.genedb.org/Homepage/Etenella). The value of these resources can be enhanced by comparison with related parasites. The well characterised immunogenicity and genetic diversity associated with Eimeria maxima promote its use in genetics-led studies on coccidiosis and recommended its selection for sequencing. Using a combination of sequencing technologies a first draft assembly and annotation has been produced for an E. maxima Houghton strain-derived clone (EmaxDB; http://www.genomemalaysia.gov.my/emaxdb/). The assembly of a draft genome sequence for E. maxima provides a resource for comparative studies with Eimeria and related parasites as demonstrated here through the identification of genes predicted to encode microneme proteins in E. maxima.
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 03/2012; 184(1):48-51. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apicomplexan parasites are responsible for a myriad of diseases in humans and livestock; yet despite intensive effort, development of effective sub-unit vaccines remains a long-term goal. Antigenic complexity and our inability to identify protective antigens from the pool that induce response are serious challenges in the development of new vaccines. Using a combination of parasite genetics and selective barriers with population-based genetic fingerprinting, we have identified that immunity against the most important apicomplexan parasite of livestock (Eimeria spp.) was targeted against a few discrete regions of the genome. Herein we report the identification of six genomic regions and, within two of those loci, the identification of true protective antigens that confer immunity as sub-unit vaccines. The first of these is an Eimeria maxima homologue of apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA-1) and the second is a previously uncharacterised gene that we have termed 'immune mapped protein-1' (IMP-1). Significantly, homologues of the AMA-1 antigen are protective with a range of apicomplexan parasites including Plasmodium spp., which suggest that there may be some characteristic(s) of protective antigens shared across this diverse group of parasites. Interestingly, homologues of the IMP-1 antigen, which is protective against E. maxima infection, can be identified in Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum. Overall, this study documents the discovery of novel protective antigens using a population-based genetic mapping approach allied with a protection-based screen of candidate genes. The identification of AMA-1 and IMP-1 represents a substantial step towards development of an effective anti-eimerian sub-unit vaccine and raises the possibility of identification of novel antigens for other apicomplexan parasites. Moreover, validation of the parasite genetics approach to identify effective antigens supports its adoption in other parasite systems where legitimate protective antigen identification is difficult.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stable transfection of Eimeria species has been difficult to achieve because of the obligate requirement for in vivo amplification and selection of the parasites. Strategies to generate and stabilise populations of transfected Eimeria tenella are described here, together with the identification of optimal parameters for the transfection process. A series of plasmids expressing selectable markers, including a panel of fluorescent reporter genes and a mutant Toxoplasma gondii dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (DHFR-TSm2m3) gene that confers resistance to pyrimethamine, were electroporated into sporozoites of the E. tenella Wisconsin strain and stabilised by selective passage through chickens. Very high transfection efficiencies of up to 25% sporozoites in transient transfection and up to 9% oocysts following a single round of in vivo selection were achieved. Crucial factors include the use of very freshly harvested parasites with the AMAXA nucleofection system (program U33 in a cytomix-buffered reaction) and linearised plasmid DNA. The use of a restriction enzyme mediated integration (REMI) protocol boosted overall efficiency and elevated insertion rate per genome. Successful development of methods to generate and isolate stable populations of transfected Eimeria parasites will now stimulate rapid expansion of reverse genetic studies in this important coccidian.
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 09/2008; 162(1):77-86. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eimeria tenella is an intracellular protozoan parasite that infects the intestinal tracts of domestic fowl and causes coccidiosis, a serious and sometimes lethal enteritis. Eimeria falls in the same phylum (Apicomplexa) as several human and animal parasites such as Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma, and the malaria parasite, Plasmodium. Here we report the sequencing and analysis of the first chromosome of E. tenella, a chromosome believed to carry loci associated with drug resistance and known to differ between virulent and attenuated strains of the parasite. The chromosome--which appears to be representative of the genome--is gene-dense and rich in simple-sequence repeats, many of which appear to give rise to repetitive amino acid tracts in the predicted proteins. Most striking is the segmentation of the chromosome into repeat-rich regions peppered with transposon-like elements and telomere-like repeats, alternating with repeat-free regions. Predicted genes differ in character between the two types of segment, and the repeat-rich regions appear to be associated with strain-to-strain variation.
Genome Research 04/2007; 17(3):311-9. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cDNA for an aspartyl proteinase, termed eimepsin, was isolated from an Eimeria tenella sporulated oocyst library and the deduced amino acid sequence found to be almost identical to a previously described aspartyl proteinase from E. acervulina (97.4% amino acid identity). An E. tenella cosmid clone covering the entire eimepsin gene was cloned and characterised. Sequencing revealed that the eimepsin gene spans 2.9 kb and consists of 18 exons and 17 introns. The 5' flanking region sequence of the gene contains a putative transcriptional promoter sequence (TATAAA box) and three potential transcription initiator sites (Inr sites). Expression of eimepsin at the mRNA and protein level is developmentally regulated during oocyst sporulation. The eimepsin transcript was detected in unsporulated oocysts and increased in abundance during the early part of sporulation when the oocyst undergoes nuclear division and blast formation. Thereafter, the level of the eimepsin transcript decreases and in the excysted sporozoite, no eimepsin-specific RNA was detected. Expression of eimepsin lags behind transcript expression by some hours, and the protein accumulates in the oocyst during sporocyst and sporozoite formation.