[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The population structure of original Babesia bigemina isolates and reference strains with a defined phenotypic profile was assessed using 18S rRNA and rap-1c genes. Two reference strains, BbiS2P-c (virulent) and BbiS1A-c (low virulence), were biologically cloned in vitro. The virulence profile of the strains and clones was assessed in vivo. One fully virulent and one low-virulence clone were mixed in identical proportions to evaluate their growth efficiency in vitro. Each clone was differentiated by two microsatellites and the gene gp45. The 18S rRNA and rap-1c genes sequences from B. bigemina biological clones and their parental strains, multiplied exclusively in vivo or in vitro, were compared with strain JG-29. The virulence of clones derived from the BbiS2P-c strain was variable. Virulent clone Bbi9P1 grew more efficiently in vitro than did the low-virulence clone Bbi2A1. The haplotypes generated by the nucleotide polymorphism, localized in the V4 region of the 18S rRNA, allowed the identification of three genotypes. The rap-1c haplotypes allowed defining four genotypes. Parental and original strains were defined by multiple haplotypes identified in both genes. The rap-1c gene, analyzed by high-resolution melting (HRM), allowed discrimination between two genotypes according to their phenotype, and both were different from JG-29. B. bigemina biological clones made it possible to define the population structure of isolates and strains. The polymorphic regions of the 18S rRNA and rap-1c genes allowed the identification of different subpopulations within original B. bigemina isolates by the definition of several haplotypes and the differentiation of fully virulent from low virulence clones.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Babesia bovis is a tick-transmitted haemoprotozoan and a causative agent of bovine babesiosis, a cattle disease that causes significant economic loss in tropical and sub-tropical regions. A panel of nineteen micro-and minisatellite markers was used to estimate population genetic parameters of eighteen parasite isolates originating from different continents, countries and geographic regions including North Amer-ica (Mexico, USA), South America (Argentina, Brazil), the Middle East (Israel) and Australia. For eleven of the eighteen isolates, a unique haplotype was inferred sug-gesting selection of a single genotype by either in vitro cultivation or amplification in splenectomized calves. Furthermore, a high genetic diversity (H = 0.780) over all marker loci was estimated. Linkage disequilibrium was observed in the total study group but also in sample subgroups from the Americas, Brazil, and Israel and Aus-tralia. In contrast, corresponding to their more confined geographic origin, samples from Israel and Argentina were each found to be in equilibrium suggestive of ran-dom mating and frequent genetic exchange. The genetic differentiation (F ST) of the total study group over all nineteen loci was estimated by analysis of variance (Θ) and Nei's estimation of heterozygosity (G ST') as 0.296 and 0.312, respectively. Thus, about 30% of the genetic diversity of the parasite population is associated with genetic differences between parasite isolates sampled from the different geographic regions. The pairwise similarity of multilocus genotypes (MLGs) was assessed and a neighbour-joining dendrogram generated. MLGs were found to cluster according to the country/continent of origin of isolates, but did not distinguish the attenuated from the pathogenic parasite state. The distant geographic origin of the isolates studied allows an initial glimpse into the large extent of genetic diversity and differ-entiation of the B. bovis population on a global scale.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Babesia bovis is a tick-transmitted haemoprotozoan and a causative agent of bovine babesiosis, a cattle disease that causes significant economic loss in tropical and subtropical regions. A panel of nineteen micro- and minisatellite markers was used to estimate population genetic parameters of eighteen parasite isolates originating from different continents, countries and geographic regions including North America (Mexico, USA), South America (Argentina, Brazil), the Middle East (Israel) and Australia. For eleven of the eighteen isolates, a unique haplotype was inferred suggesting selection of a single genotype by either in vitro cultivation or amplification in splenectomized calves. Furthermore, a high genetic diversity (H = 0.780) over all marker loci was estimated. Linkage disequilibrium was observed in the total study group but also in sample subgroups from the Americas, Brazil, and Israel and Australia. In contrast, corresponding to their more confined geographic origin, samples from Israel and Argentina were each found to be in equilibrium suggestive of random mating and frequent genetic exchange. The genetic differentiation (FST ) of the total study group over all nineteen loci was estimated by analysis of variance (Θ) and Nei's estimation of heterozygosity (GST' ) as 0.296 and 0.312, respectively. Thus, about 30% of the genetic diversity of the parasite population is associated with genetic differences between parasite isolates sampled from the different geographic regions. The pairwise similarity of multilocus genotypes (MLGs) was assessed and a neighbour-joining dendrogram generated. MLGs were found to cluster according to the country/continent of origin of isolates, but did not distinguish the attenuated from the pathogenic parasite state. The distant geographic origin of the isolates studied allows an initial glimpse into the large extent of genetic diversity and differentiation of the B. bovis population on a global scale.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SUMMARY The intra-erythrocytic protozoan Babesia bovis is an economically important pathogen that causes an acute and often fatal infection in adult cattle. Babesiosis limitation depends on the early activation of macrophages, essential cells of the host innate immunity, which can generate an inflammatory response mediated by cytokines and nitric oxide (NO). Herein, we demonstrate in bovine macrophages that lipids from B. bovis attenuated R1A strain (LA) produced a stronger NO release, an early TNFα mRNA induction and 2-fold higher IL-12p35 mRNA levels compared to the lipids of virulent S2P strain (LV). Neither LA nor LV induced anti-inflammatory IL-10. Regarding signalling pathways, we here report that LA induced a significant phosphorylation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) whereas LV only induced a reduced activation of ERK1/2. Besides, NF-κB was activated by LA and LV, but LA produced an early degradation of the inhibitor IκB. Interestingly, LV and the majority of its lipid fractions, exerted a significant inhibition of concanavalin A-induced peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation with respect to LA and its corresponding lipid fractions. In addition, we determined that animals infected with R1A developed a higher increase in IgM anti-phosphatidylcholine than those inoculated with S2P. Collectively, S2P lipids generated a decreased inflammatory response contributing to the evasion of innate immunity. Moreover, since R1A lipids induced a pro-inflammatory profile, we propose these molecules as good candidates for immunoprophylactic strategies against babesiosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The virulence phenotype of Babesia bovis subpopulations was evaluated using biological clones derived from the high-virulence BboS2P and the low-virulence BboR1A strain and two original virulent isolates, BboL15 and BboL17, multiplied extensively in vitro or attenuated by successive passages in splenectomized calves. The virulence phenotype was assessed both by inoculation of normal Holstein adult steers and by analyses of polymorphic fragments of the single-copy Bv80 gene as a subpopulation marker. BboS2P and its nine derived clones contained a single 750bp fragment with identical nucleotide sequences and numbers of repeats. A single fragment of approximately 850bp was observed in BboR1A and its derived clones (Ca3B1, Ca2B1). Ca3B1 and Ca2B1 were differentiated by a stable deletion of 15 contiguous nucleotides in the Bv80 allele of Ca3B1. Both alleles were identified in the parental strain. Original isolates BboL15 and BboL17 contained two Bv80 fragments of different sizes. Interestingly, the heavy and light fragments persisted in the in vivo-attenuated strains and the virulent in vitro-multiplied strains, respectively. Despite the inter-strain allelic diversity of the Bv80 gene, the fragments had identical nucleotide sequences and numbers of repeats compared to their respective parental Bv80 genes. The high-virulence and low-virulence phenotypes remained unchanged after they were multiplied in vitro. In conclusion, the polymorphic B. bovis Bv80 gene, was a useful marker for differentiating subpopulations with different phenotypes. The brevity of the procedure to isolate one parasite from the original isolate or strain before in vitro cloning and the fact that the continuous in vitro multiplication did not modify the virulence phenotype of B. bovis clones strongly suggest that the in vivo-attenuated subpopulations existed in the original isolates before they were selected by passages in splenectomized calves.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Nc-Spain 7 isolate of Neospora caninum, which was newly obtained from an asymptomatic congenitally infected calf, demonstrated a similar virulence as Nc-1 strain in mouse models. The aim of this study was to characterize the pathogenesis of Nc-Spain 7 isolate in cattle after experimental infection at 65 days of gestation. For this purpose, thirteen pregnant heifers were divided into three groups as follows: group A: 7 heifers inoculated with 1×10(8) tachyzoites of Nc-Spain 7 isolate; group B: 4 heifers inoculated with 1×10(8) tachyzoites of Nc 1 strain; and group C: 2 heifers received PBS. Serum samples were collected weekly and heparinized blood samples were collected three times (0, 28 and 42 days after inoculation) by jugular venipuncture. Placenta and fetal tissue samples were collected at time of necropsy. Specific antibody response in the dams was tested by IFAT, indirect ELISA, and rNcGRA7 and rNcSAG4 based-ELISA. Specific antibody response in fetal fluids was tested by IFAT. IFN-γ production was measured after in vitro culture of PBMC and the supernatant was assessed using a commercial kit (BOVIGAM). A significant increase in N. caninum antibody responses was detected in groups A and B by IFAT and by i-ELISA from day 14 after inoculation onwards. Besides, antibody response against rNCGra7 protein was also detected in all inoculated heifers by rNcGra7-based ELISA. Four fetuses from group A and one from group B were aborted between 3 and 5 weeks after infection. In the recovered fetuses, only 3 out of 4 fetal fluids from fetuses of group A and 1 out of 3 of group B were seropositive by IFAT, but all of them were positive by PCR. Transplacental transmission could be determined in all fetuses from groups A and B by PCR and/or IHC. Heifers of group C and their fetuses remained negative by all techniques. The results of this study demonstrate that the NC-Spain 7 isolate could be transmitted transplacentally, and produced fetal death and abortion in cattle.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to characterize the pathogenesis of Neospora caninum in experimentally inoculated pregnant water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Twelve Mediterranean female water buffaloes ranging in age from 4 to 14 years old and seronegative to N. caninum by indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) were involved. Ten females were intravenously inoculated with 10(8) tachyzoites of NC-1 strain at 70 (n=3) or 90 (n=7) days of pregnancy (dp). Two control animals were inoculated with placebo at 70 and 90 dp, respectively. Serum samples were obtained weekly following inoculation to the end of the experiment. Three animals inoculated at 70 dp were slaughtered at 28 days post inoculation (dpi), three animals inoculated at 90 dp were slaughtered at 28 dpi and the remaining four animals inoculated at 90 dp were slaughtered at 42 dpi. Fetal fluids from cavities and tissue samples were recovered for IFAT and histopathology, immunohistochemistry and PCR, respectively. Genomic DNA from fetal tissues was used for parasite DNA detection and microsatellite genotyping in order to confirm the NC-1 specific-infection. Dams developed specific antibodies one week after the inoculation and serological titers did not decrease significantly to the end of the experiment. No abortions were recorded during the experimental time; however, one fetus from a dam inoculated at 70 dp was not viable at necropsy. Specific antibodies were detected in only two fetuses from dams inoculated at 90 dp that were slaughtered at 42 dpi. No macroscopic changes in the placentas and organs of viable fetuses were observed. Nonsuppurative placentitis was a common microscopic observation in Neospora-inoculated specimens. Microscopic fetal lesions included nonsuppurative peribronchiolar interstitial pneumonia, epicarditis and myocarditis, interstitial nephritis, myositis and periportal hepatitis. Positive IHC results were obtained in two fetuses from dams inoculated at 70 dp and slaughtered at 28 dpi. N. caninum DNA was detected in placentas and fetuses from all inoculated animals. The pattern of amplified microsatellites from placental and fetal tissues resembled the NC-1 strain. Water buffaloes, like cattle, are susceptible to experimental inoculation with N. caninum at early pregnancy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The apical complex of intracellular hemoparasites contains organelles like micronemes and rhoptries, specialized structures required for adherence and invasion of host cells. Several molecules discharged from rhoptries have been identified from Plasmodium spp., but only a single rhoptry associated protein-1 (RAP-1) has been characterized from Babesia bovis. In silico search of the B. bovis genome allowed to identifying a sequence homologous to the gene that encodes a P. falciparum rhoptry protein PfRhop148. The intron-less 1830 bp novel gene, predicted a 68kDa protein, and it was highly conserved among different B. bovis strains and isolates. The deducted protein from the B. bovis T2Bo strain, named BboRhop68, showed two putative transmembrane domains, at least seven B-cell epitopes, and a well conserved DUF501 super family domain. The bborhop68 gene was amplified, analyzed and compared among different B. bovis strains and isolates showing overall high sequence conservation. A fragment of bborhop68 was expressed as a recombinant fusion protein (rBboRhop68). The mice anti-rBboRhop68 serum identified the novel protein in intraerythrocytic trophozoites and merozoites by WB and ELISA, but not in free merozoites. Sera from naturally and experimentally infected bovines also recognized BboRhop68, suggesting that it is expressed and immunogenic during B. bovis infection. Fluorescence microscopy analysis using anti-rBboRhop68 antibodies showed a rod structure associated to trophozoites and merozoites infected erythrocytes, but this pattern of reactivity was not observed in free merozoites. The BboRhop68 was also not detected in ELISA based on solubilized merozoites. Thus, at least three independent lines of evidence support differential expression of BboRhop68 in intraerythrocytic stages of B. bovis and its possible functional role immediately after B. bovis erythrocyte invasion. The results of this work suggest that BboRhop68 could be considered as a novel additional target for developing improved methods to control bovine babesiosis.
Parasitology International 12/2010; 59(4):571-8. · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to compare the immune responses to live Neospora caninum tachyzoites and N. caninum native antigens formulated with immune stimulating complexes matrix (ISCOM-matrix) in calves. Fifteen calves were used in this study: 3 were intravenously inoculated with 1 × 10(8) live tachyzoites (Group A), 3 were inoculated twice with N. caninum native antigens formulated with ISCOMs (Group B); 3 with N. caninum native antigens in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (Group C); 3 received ISCOM-matrix (ISCOMs without antigen) (Group D) and 3 were negative controls receiving PBS (Group E). The last four groups were inoculated subcutaneously. The specific total IgG and its subtypes were analyzed by an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and by Western blot. IFN-γ levels in plasma was quantified using a commercial kit. All calves were challenged intravenously with 1 × 10(8) live tachyzoites at week 11 after receiving the first dose. Parasitemia was assessed in plasma samples by semi-nested PCR. Neospora-specific antibodies were detected in animals from Groups A and B in the week 2 after inoculation. The ELISA OD values were higher in Group B compared with Group A from weeks 6 to 11 (P<0.05). Analysis of the subisotype specific antibodies in experimentally infected calves revealed a predominant IgG(2) response; however, a predominant IgG(1) response was observed in animals inoculated with N. caninum native antigens formulated with ISCOM-matrix. Control calves remained seronegative until challenge infection. The pattern of bands by Western blot was similar when testing sera from animals in Groups A and B. The levels of IFN-γ production after respective immunization schedules were similar between Groups A and B. Neospora-DNA was detected in plasma samples shortly after intravenous challenge in calves from all groups including those receiving the experimental vaccine formulation. The duration of the parasitemia was similar in all groups.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The merozoite surface antigens MSA-2 of Babesia bovis constitute a family of polymorphic GPI-anchored glycoproteins located at the parasite cell surface, that contain neutralization-sensitive B-cell epitopes. These are therefore putative vaccine candidates for bovine babesiosis. It was previously shown that (i) the MSA-2 antigens of the biologically cloned Mo7 strain are encoded by four tandemly organized genes: msa-2a(1), a(2), b and c, and (ii) at least one allele of each of these genes is present in the Argentine R1A strain with a moderate degree of polymorphism. The present work was aimed at defining neutralization-sensitive B-cell epitopes in the MSA-2 family, that are conserved among different B. bovis geographical isolates. To this end, msa-2a, b and c alleles from different isolates from Argentina, USA and Mexico were amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced. Bioinformatic analysis by ClustalW alignments and B-cell epitope prediction algorithms performed on these sequences allowed the identification of several regions containing putative conserved B-cell epitopes. Four peptides representing these regions: (KDYKTMVKFCN from msa-2a(1); YYKKHIS, from msa-2b; and THDALKAVKQLIKT and ELLKLLIEA from msa-2c) were chemically synthesized, conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin and used to inoculate mice to obtain immune sera. Anti-peptide antibodies recognized B. bovis merozoite extracts in all cases in ELISA tests. In addition, these sera reacted with the surface of merozoites of an Argentine and a Mexican B. bovis strains in immunofluorescence assays, and sera against two of the selected peptides inhibited invasion of erythrocytes by in vitro cultured merozoites. Taken together, the results show that the peptide sequences selected by bioinformatic analysis represent expressed and geographically conserved B. bovis B-cell epitopes that might be strong candidates for development of subunit vaccines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Babesia bovis is a tick-borne apicomplexan pathogen that remains an important constraint for the development of cattle industries worldwide. The existence of different strains and subpopulations has long been described in this hemoparasite. However, few molecular markers have been reported for strain genotyping and characterization. Minisatellite sequences show high levels of variation and therefore provide excellent tools for both the genotyping and population genetic analysis. In this work we report a set of five molecular markers containing minisatellites that showed a variable degree of polymorphism in several American strains. We have used a bioinformatics approach to search for marker sequences contained in open reading frames. Five genes were chosen and primers were designed in conserved regions flanking the repeat region. Two of the genes were the previously described Bv80/Bb-1 and TRAP. The other three genes were named p200, Antigen 3 and Desmoyokin. Amplification by PCR, sequencing and comparative analysis of 11 strains from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and USA determined that the tandem repeats varied in number and sequence among the isolates. Genome analysis of the five markers revealed that they were single copy and distributed across the four B. bovis chromosomes. When the new markers were analyzed in an experimental infection, absolute sequence conservation was found, indicating the stability of these markers during the course of infection. These markers were also stable during three syringe passages through calves. The application of this panel of molecular markers could provide new molecular tools for the genotyping of B. bovis isolates and analysis of changes in parasite populations following vaccination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The merozoite surface antigen-2 (msa-2) family of Babesia bovis is a group of variable genes that share conserved 5' and 3' ends and encode for membrane-anchored glycoproteins that have been postulated as vaccine candidates. In this work, we analyzed the sequences of three of these genes (msa-2a1, a2, and 2b) from two geographically distant strains and detected a certain degree of genotypic diversity that could be exploited to work out new molecular tools for the discrimination of B. bovis field samples. Here we describe a PCR restriction assay that was developed based on this observation and tested on several B. bovis strains and isolates. The results show a strain-specific band pattern in geographically distant isolates, indicating the presence of differentially located BspMI restriction sites. This approach provides a simple method for the differentiation of American B. bovis strains.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 01/2009; 1149:141-4. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Babesia bovis is a tick-borne apicomplexan pathogen that remains an important constrain for the development of cattle industries worldwide. Effective control can be achieved by vaccination with live attenuated forms of the parasite, but they have several drawbacks and thus the development of alternative subunit vaccines, either based in recombinant versions of full size proteins or in recombinant or synthetic peptides containing combinations of protective B-cell and T-cell epitopes is needed. Our current strategies for the identification of vaccine candidate antigens include the identification of functionally relevant antigens, bioinformatics, and comparative genomics using the recently sequenced B. bovis genome. These led us to the functional and immunological characterization of members of the VMSA gene family, a group of well conserved putative cysteine and serine proteases, and to the definition of a surface exposed B-cell epitope present in the Merozoite Surface Antigen-2c. Work in progress is focused in defining additional epitopes, and to determine whether they are neutralization-sensitive. These approaches might unravel useful vaccine candidates for B. bovis, and will increase our understanding of the pathogenicity mechanisms of these and related hemoparasites.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Merozoite Surface Antigen-2 (MSA-2) family of Babesia bovis is a group of variable genes which share conserved 5' and 3' conserved ends. These genes encode membrane anchored glycoproteins, named MSA-2a1, a2, b and c, which are immunodominant antigens located on the surface of sporozoites and merozoites. In this work, we have analyzed the sequences of the msa-2a1, a2 and 2b genes in two geographically distant strains from Mexico and Argentina and detected a certain degree of genotypic diversity that can be exploited for the development of a new molecular tool for the discrimination of B. bovis field samples. Here, we describe a PCR restriction assay based on the msa2-a1, -a2 and -2b genes of B. bovis. When field strains from Argentina, Mexico and USA were analyzed, the results showed a strain-specific band pattern indicating the presence of differentially located BspMI restriction sites. This approach provides a simple method for the genotyping/strain differentiation of B. bovis field samples.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The search for vaccine candidates against bovine babesiosis caused by Babesia bovis is greatly focused on the identification of merozoite surface-exposed antigens that are widely conserved, functionally relevant and immunodominant in cattle protected against B. bovis infections. We have recently identified msa-2c, a member of the B. bovis variable merozoite surface antigen (VMSA) gene family, which in contrast to other members, appears to be highly conserved among geographically distant B. bovis strains. In this study, we further investigated the potential of the msa-2c gene product as diagnostic and vaccine candidate for bovine babesiosis. RT-PCR studies demonstrated that MSA-2c is transcribed in merozoites of the Argentine R1A strain. In addition, antibodies against R1A recombinant MSA-2c reacted in immunoblots with a single protein of approximately 30kDa in B. bovis merozoite extracts from both R1A and Australian "S" strains, demonstrating translation of this protein in these two strains and conservation of B-cell epitopes between them. These antibodies reacted with the cell surface of R1A merozoites in fixed immunofluorescence assays, indicating the surface localization of MSA-2c. This localization was confirmed by live immunofluorescence studies in two different strains, R1A and S2P. These results also demonstrate the conservation of MSA-2c surface-exposed B-cell epitopes between these two strains. Sera from cattle either naturally or experimentally infected with Argentine strains of B. bovis specifically recognized rMSA-2c in immunoblots, reinforcing the idea that B-cell epitopes in rMSA-2c are widely conserved among field strains of B. bovis. Furthermore, our results show that these B-cell epitopes are highly immunogenic, suggesting that MSA-2c may be a useful diagnostic tool for the detection of bovine babesiosis by B. bovis. Experimental vaccination of five bovines with rMSA-2c resulted in elicitation of high specific anti-rMSA-2c IgG titers, with similar amounts of IgG(1) and IgG(2) produced. Importantly, bovine anti-rMSA-2c antibodies were able to neutralize in vitro bovine erythrocyte invasion by R1A merozoites suggesting a significant functional role for MSA-2c. Taken together these results postulate MSA-2c as a candidate for the development of novel tools for improved control of bovine babesiosis.
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 05/2003; 127(2):133-41. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the babesial rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1) family express surface-exposed B-cell epitopes and are candidate antigens for vaccine development. The relationship between rap-1 genomic polymorphism and surface-exposed B-cell epitope expression was analyzed by comparison of biological clones of Mexico strain Babesia bigemina and Babesia bovis with strains isolated in Argentina. Despite genomic polymorphism between strains, including sequences located within the open reading frame, defined RAP-1 B-cell surface epitopes and RAP-1 molecular size were conserved in both B. bovis and B. bigemina.
Infection and Immunity 09/1994; 62(8):3576-9. · 4.07 Impact Factor