Horses infected with Babesia equi were previously identified by the presence of antibodies reactive with a merozoite surface protein epitope (D. P. Knowles, Jr., L. E. Perryman, L. S. Kappmeyer, and S. G. Hennager. J. Clin. Microbiol. 29:2056-2058, 1991). The antibodies were detected in a competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (CI ELISA) by using monoclonal antibody 36/133.97, which defines a protein epitope on the merozoite surface. The gene encoding this B. equi merozoite epitope was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant merozoite protein, designated equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1), was evaluated in the CI ELISA. Recombinant EMA-1 bound antibody from the sera of B. equi-infected horses from 18 countries. The antibody response to EMA-1 was then measured in horses experimentally infected with B. equi via transmission by the tick vector Boophilus microplus or by intravenous inoculation. Anti-EMA-1 antibody was detected 7 weeks post-tick exposure and remained, without reexposure to B. equi, for the 33 weeks of the evaluation period. The data indicate that recombinant EMA-1 can be used in the CI ELISA to detect horses infected with B. equi.
Babesiosis is a tick-borne hemoparasitic disease affecting horses worldwide. To investigate mechanisms of immunity to this parasite, the antibody response of infected horses to Babesia equi merozoite proteins was evaluated. Immunoprecipitation of B. equi merozoite antigens with sera from infected horses revealed 11 major proteins of 210, 144, 108, 88, 70, 56, 44, 36, 34, 28, and 25 kDa. Monoclonal antibody (MAb) 36/133.97, which binds to live merozoites, immunoprecipitated proteins of 44, 36, 34, and 28 kDa. When immunoprecipitations were performed with in vitro translation products of merozoite mRNA, MAb 36/133.97 immunoprecipitated proteins of 38, 28, 26, and 23 kDa which comigrated with proteins immunoprecipitated by sera from infected horses at 10(-3) to 10(-4) dilutions. In Western blot analysis, MAb 36/133.97 recognized proteins of 44, 36, 34, and 28 kDa, and a 28-kDa protein was identified by sera from infected horses at a dilution of 10(-4). MAb 36/133.97 bound to B. equi isolates from Florida and Europe. Furthermore, the binding of MAb 36/133.97 to merozoite proteins was inhibited by sera of infected horses from 19 countries. Collectively, these data indicate MAb 36/133.97 binds to a geographically conserved peptide epitope on multiple B. equi merozoite proteins, including a merozoite surface protein, and MAb 36/133.97 reacts with a B. equi protein immunodominant in infected horses.
Equi merozoite antigens 1 and 2 (EMA-1 and EMA-2) are Babesia equi proteins expressed on the parasite surface during infection in horses and are orthologues of proteins in Theileria spp., which are also tick-transmitted protozoal pathogens. We determined in this study whether EMA-1 and EMA-2 were expressed within the vector tick Boophilus microplus. B. equi transitions through multiple, morphologically distinct stages, including sexual stages, and these transitions culminate in the formation of infectious sporozoites in the tick salivary gland. EMA-2-positive B. equi stages in the midgut lumen and midgut epithelial cells of Boophilus microplus nymphs were identified by reactivity with monoclonal antibody 36/253.21. This monoclonal antibody also recognized B. equi in salivary glands of adult Boophilus microplus. In addition, quantification of B. equi in the mammalian host and vector tick indicated that the duration of tick feeding and parasitemia levels affected the percentage of nymphs that contained morphologically distinct B. equi organisms in the midgut. In contrast, there was no conclusive evidence that B. equi EMA-1 was expressed in either the Boophilus microplus midgut or salivary gland when monoclonal antibody 36/18.57 was used. The expression of B. equi EMA-2 in Boophilus microplus provides a marker for detecting the various development stages and facilitates the identification of novel stage-specific Babesia proteins for testing transmission-blocking immunity.
The gene encoding the entire Babesia equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1) was inserted into a baculovirus transfer vector, and a recombinant virus expressing EMA-1 was isolated. The expressed EMA-1 was transported to the surface of infected insect cells, as judged by an indirect fluorescent-antibody test (IFAT). The expressed EMA-1 was also secreted into the supernatant of a cell culture infected with recombinant baculovirus. Both intracellular and extracellular EMA-1 reacted with a specific antibody in Western blots. The expressed EMA-1 had an apparent molecular mass of 34 kDa that was identical to that of native EMA-1. The secreted EMA-1 was used as an antigen in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The ELISA differentiated B. equi-infected horse sera from Babesia caballi-infected horse sera or normal horse sera. The ELISA was more sensitive than the complement fixation test and IFAT. These results demonstrated that the recombinant EMA-1 expressed in insect cells might be a useful diagnostic reagent for detection of antibodies to B. equi.
The gene encoding a truncated merozoite antigen-2 (EMA-2t) of Babesia equi was cloned and highly expressed in Escherichia coli as a glutathione S-transferase fusion protein (G-rEMA-2t). Both G-rEMA-2t and rEMA-2t (after the removal of glutathione S-transferase) had good antigenicity. Either Western blot analysis with rEMA-2t or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with G-rEMA-2t clearly discriminated the sera of horses experimentally infected with B. equi from sera of horses infected with Babesia caballi and healthy horses, although rEMA-2t was not suitable for ELISA, probably owing to its poor absorbability to the plates. The specific antibodies in B. equi-infected horses were detectable during both acute and latent infection (6 to 244 days postinfection). Horse sera from Jilin Province, China, were examined by the two tests. The seroprevalence of B. equi was 49.2% (31 of 63 sera) by Western blot analysis with rEMA-2t and 47.6% (30 of 63 sera) by ELISA with G-rEMA-2t. The correspondence was 98.4% (62 of 63 sera) between the two tests. The results indicate that G-rEMA-2t and rEMA-2t proteins should be suitable antigens for the development of an effective immunodiagnostic assay due to their high sensitivity, specificity, and great yield.
Monoclonal antibody (MAb) BEG3 was produced against Babesia equi parasites to define a species-specific antigen for diagnostic use. The MAb reacted with single, paired, and Maltese cross forms of B. equi, and no reaction was observed with this MAb on acetone-fixed Babesia caballi, Babesia ovata, or Babesia microti parasites in the indirect immunofluorescent antibody test. Confocal laser and immunoelectron microscopic studies showed that the antigen which was recognized by this MAb was located on the surface of B. equi parasites. This MAb recognized a 19-kDa protein of B. equi antigen and did not react with B. caballi antigen or normal horse erythrocytes in immunoblot analysis. This MAb also significantly inhibited the in vitro growth of the B. equi parasite. Preliminary studies using partially purified antigen, which was separated by high-pressure liquid chromatography and recognized by the MAb, suggested that it is a suitable antigen for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detection of anti-B. equi antibodies in naturally infected horse sera.
A latex agglutination test (LAT) using recombinant equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1) for the detection of antibodies to Babesia equi was developed. The LAT was able to differentiate very clearly between sera from B. equi-infected horses and sera from Babesia caballi-infected horses or from normal horses. The LAT results were identical to those of a previously developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These results indicate that LAT using recombinant EMA-1 might be very useful as a routine screening method for the diagnosis of B. equi infection.
An immunochromatographic test for the simultaneous detection of Babesia caballi- and B. equi-specific antibodies (BceICT) was developed using a recombinant B. caballi 48-kDa rhoptry protein (rBc48) and a recombinant truncated B. equi merozoite antigen 2 (rEMA-2t). An evaluation of the ability of the BceICT to detect antibodies in sera from uninfected horses and experimentally infected horses showed high sensitivities and specificities of 83.3% (10/12 sera) and 92.9% (52/56 sera), respectively, for the anti-B. caballi antibody and 94.1% (16/17 sera) and 88.2% (45/51 sera), respectively, for the anti-B. equi antibody. Results from the detection of antibodies in field-collected sera indicated that the BceICT results corresponded with those of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), showing 91.8% correspondence (67/73 sera) for B. caballi and 95.9% correspondence (70/73 sera) for B. equi, and that the BceICT results also corresponded with the ICT for B. caballi and for B. equi, both of which were 98.2% (55/56 sera). The comparable results of the ICT and ELISA and the simplicity and rapidity of the performance of the ICT suggest that the BceICT would be a feasible test for the simultaneous serodiagnosis of both agents of equine babesiosis in the field.
In this study, we characterized a Babesia equi Be158 gene obtained by immunoscreening a B. equi cDNA expression phage library with B. equi-infected horse serum. The Be158 gene consists of an open reading frame of 3,510 nucleotides. The recombinant Be158 gene product was produced in Escherichia coli and used for the immunization of mice. In Western blot analysis, mouse immune serum against the Be158 gene product recognized 75- and 158-kDa proteins from the lysate of B. equi-infected erythrocytes. In an indirect fluorescent-antibody test with the mouse immune serum, the Be158 antigen appeared in the cytoplasm of Maltese cross-forming parasites (which consist of four merozoites) and was located mainly in the extraerythrocytic merozoite body. When the recombinant Be158 gene product was used in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay as a serological antigen, it was found to react to B. equi-infected horse sera, indicating that the Be158 gene product is useful as a serologically diagnostic antigen for B. equi infection.
Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus, a Lancefield group C streptococcus, is a frequently isolated opportunist pathogen from a variety of animal hosts, including the horse. Previous studies have indicated that equine strains carry antigens with characteristics of the antiphagocytic M proteins on the Lancefield groups A and G streptococci. We have cloned a protective M-like protein gene (SzPW60) of an equine strain of S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus W60 and determined its sequence. This gene encodes a protein with a molecular weight of 40,123 which protects mice against subsp. zooepidemicus but not subsp. equi, stimulates antibodies which opsonize subsp. zooepidemicus but not equi, and reacts with antiserum to the protein of the parent strain. The predicted amino acid structure shows significant homology with the carboxy termini of groups A and G M proteins but no other homology. The M-like protein, although showing an extensive region of alpha helix, lacks the A, B, and C repeats found in group A M proteins and has a shorter signal sequence. A proline-rich region upstream from the LPSTGE motif contains 20 repeats of the tetrapeptide PEPK. The presence of this repeat region may account for the slow migration of the M-like protein in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.
Antimicrobial peptides are major components of host innate immunity, a well-conserved, evolutionarily ancient defensive mechanism. Infectious disease-bearing vector ticks are thought to possess specific defense molecules against the transmitted pathogens that have been acquired during their evolution. We found in the tick Haemaphysalis longicornis a novel parasiticidal peptide named longicin that may have evolved from a common ancestral peptide resembling spider and scorpion toxins. H. longicornis is the primary vector for Babesia sp. parasites in Japan. Longicin also displayed bactericidal and fungicidal properties that resemble those of defensin homologues from invertebrates and vertebrates. Longicin showed a remarkable ability to inhibit the proliferation of merozoites, an erythrocyte blood stage of equine Babesia equi, by killing the parasites. Longicin was localized at the surface of the Babesia sp. parasites, as demonstrated by confocal microscopic analysis. In an in vivo experiment, longicin induced significant reduction of parasitemia in animals infected with the zoonotic and murine B. microti. Moreover, RNA interference data demonstrated that endogenous longicin is able to directly kill the canine B. gibsoni, thus indicating that it may play a role in regulating the vectorial capacity in the vector tick H. longicornis. Theoretically, longicin may serve as a model for the development of chemotherapeutic compounds against tick-borne disease organisms.
Horses that have undergone infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi (strangles) were found to have significantly increased serum antibody titers against three previously characterized proteins, FNZ (cell surface-bound fibronectin binding protein), SFS (secreted fibronectin binding protein), and EAG (α2-macroglobulin, albumin, and immunoglobulin G [IgG] binding protein) from S. equi. To assess the protective efficacy of vaccination with these three proteins, a mouse model of equine strangles was utilized. Parts of the three recombinant proteins were used to immunize mice, either subcutaneously or intranasally, prior to nasal challenge with S. equi subsp. equi. The adjuvant used was EtxB, a recombinant form of the B subunit of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin. It was shown that nasal colonization of S. equi subsp. equi and weight loss due to infection were significantly reduced after vaccination compared with a mock-vaccinated control group. This effect was more pronounced after intranasal vaccination than after subcutaneous vaccination; nearly complete eradication of nasal colonization was obtained after intranasal vaccination (P < 0.001). When the same antigens were administered both intranasally and subcutaneously to healthy horses, significant mucosal IgA and serum IgG antibody responses against FNZ and EAG were obtained. The antibody response was enhanced when EtxB was used as an adjuvant. No adverse effects of the antigens or EtxB were observed. Thus, FNZ and EAG in conjunction with EtxB are promising candidates for an efficacious and safe vaccine against strangles.
Babesia bovis merozoites are exposed to antibodies during the extraerythrocytic phase, and surface polypeptides bearing exposed epitopes are possible immunogens. Monoclonal antibodies reactive with the merozoite surface bind either immunodominant epitopes expressed diffusely on the merozoite surface or, alternatively, epitopes expressed in a polar pattern. Epitopes expressed diffusely on the immunodominant 42- and 44-kDa merozoite polypeptides were not conserved among strains from geographically diverse regions. In contrast, epitopes expressed in a polar pattern on the merozoite surface were conserved among nine strains and clones. Identification of variables and conserved epitopes provides a basis for defining antigenic variation and cross-protective immunity.
To isolate Babesia equi genes encoding immunodominant proteins, a cDNA expression library prepared from B. equi mRNA was immunoscreened with B. equi-infected horse serum. Eighteen positive cDNA clones were obtained, and the clone that showed the strongest immunoreactivity, designated Be82, was further characterized. The Be82 gene consisted of 1,953 bp and contained a partial open reading frame lacking the 5′-terminal sequence. As shown by Western blot analyses, immune sera from mice intraperitoneally injected with the Be82 gene product recognized the 82- and 52-kDa proteins of B. equi but not those of Babesia caballi. The glutathione S-transferase fusion protein expressed in Escherichia coli that was purified and used as the antigen in the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay reacted specifically with B. equi-infected horse sera. These results suggest that the Be82 gene product is a potential diagnostic antigen candidate in the detection of B. equi infection in horses that will be useful both in the performance of epidemiological studies and in the granting of quarantine passes.
Horses possessing a normal immune system and spleen often control infection caused by Babesia equi. However, splenectomized horses are unable to control B. equi infection and usually succumb to the infection. To investigate the role of the spleen in the control of B. equi infection in the absence of specific immune responses, two 1-month-old foals with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and two age-matched normal foals were inoculated with B. equi. The SCID foals became febrile seven days postinoculation and developed terminal parasitemias of 41 and 29%. The SCID foals had greater than 50% decreases in indices of total erythrocytes, packed-cell volumes, and hemoglobin concentrations. Both SCID foals were euthanized in extremis at 10 days postinoculation. As expected, the serum of the SCID foals lacked detectable antibodies to B. equi antigens. In contrast, the normal foals inoculated with B. equi produced detectable anti-erythrocyte-stage parasite antibodies by 7 days and controlled clinical disease by 12 days postinoculation. Although SCID foals lack functional T and B lymphocytes, they do possess complement, macrophages, granulocytes, and natural killer cells, as well as a spleen. Therefore, the data indicate that specific immune responses are required to control B. equi parasitemia but are not required for erythrocyte lysis in infected horses. Furthermore, the spleen is not able to control B. equi parasitemia in the absence of specific immune responses to parasite antigens.
A serological survey was conducted on horse sera collected for 7 years just before the first outbreak of equine influenza (EI) infection in Japan in 1971. No antibodies against the A/Equi-1/Prague/56 (equi-1) and A/Equi-2/Miami/63 (equi-2) strains of EI virus were detected in any of the sera of 452 native horses when employing hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and complement fixation (CF) tests against viral (V) antigen. On the contrary, of the 80 imported horses, 48 (60.0%) had HI titers of 1:8 or higher against equi-1 and 23 (28.8%) against equi-2. In the CF-V test 42.6% of the horses showed titers of 1:4 or higher against equi-1 antigen and 42.9% against equi-2 antigen. However, all the test sera of the native and imported horses were negative (less than 1:4) in CF tests against soluble human influenza antigen. Epidemiological analysis was carried out to clarify the relationship between the history and the presence of serum antibody against EI viruses in individual imported horses.
Virulent Rhodococcus equi produces 15- to 17-kDa surface protein antigens. These antigens are used as markers to identify virulent R. equi isolates from foals and their environment by Western blot (immunoblot) analysis with naturally infected foal serum. In the present study, a monoclonal antibody (MAb; 10G5) was generated against the 15- to 17-kDa antigens excised from sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels to develop sensitive and specific immunoblot assays for the identification of virulent R. equi. MAb 10G5 strongly reacted with R. equi ATCC 33701 and L1, which expressed 15- to 17-kDa antigens by Western blot, colony blot, and dot immunobinding assays, but it did not react with strains ATCC 33701P- and L1P-, which lacked the antigens. For identification of virulent R. equi, clinical and environmental isolates were tested by these assays with the MAb, and all virulent strains were successfully identified; these strains possessed virulence plasmids. These results suggest that the MAb is a useful reagent for the identification of virulent R. equi.
Infections by Babesia bovis limit cattle production and cause important economic losses in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Monitoring of calf sera can be used to detect unprotected cattle herds and to decide on strategic control measures, as well as for epidemiological studies. Merozoite surface antigen 2c (MSA-2c) is an immunodominant surface protein expressed in B. bovis merozoites and sporozoites and contains B-cell epitopes that are conserved among geographic isolates. A monoclonal antibody against recombinant MSA-2c (rMSA-2c) was previously shown to inhibit the binding of anti-B. bovis antibodies to a parasite B-cell epitope in a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) format. In the work at hand, the parameters of this cELISA were reevaluated and adjusted when necessary, and a cutoff value was determined by receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis of a total of 357 bovine sera of known reactivity, as assessed by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFAT). The established rMSA-2c cELISA demonstrated a specificity of 98% and a sensitivity of 96.2%. An additional set of 303 field bovine sera from regions where ticks are endemic and tick-free regions of Argentina was tested by both rMSA-2c cELISA and IFAT, and the results were shown to be in very good agreement (kappa index, 0.8325). The performance shown by rMSA-2c cELISA in the detection of B. bovis-specific antibodies and its suitability for standardization and large-scale production, as well as the possibility of its application in most veterinary diagnostic laboratories, make the assay a powerful tool for the surveillance of herd immunity as a strategic measure for the control of bovine babesiosis.
A horse with no prior clinical history of equine piroplasmosis tested negative for Babesia caballi and Babesia equi in the complement fixation test before importation into the United States from France. After 5 years in residence in the United States, the animal tested serologically positive for B. equi by the complement fixation test, the immunofluorescent antibody test, and Western blot analysis. The carrier status of the horse was confirmed by culture of B. equi parasites. In vitro culture offers an efficient and comparatively inexpensive method to determine the carrier status of horses suspected of harboring B. equi.
To define Babesia bigemina-specific antigens on the surface of infected erythrocytes, monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were identified by live-cell immunofluorescence. As determined by live-cell immunofluorescence, two MAbs made to the Mexico strain reacted with the Mexico strain and three Kenya strains, while three MAbs made to the Kenya-Ngong strain reacted with the Kenya strains but not the Mexico strain. Binding of MAb 44.18 (made to the Mexico strain) to a strain-common epitope was confirmed by immunoelectron microscopy and by surface-specific immunoprecipitation of [35S]methionine-labeled proteins (200, 28, and 16 kDa in size), which also demonstrated that the MAb recognized an epitope on proteins encoded by B. bigemina. In immunoblots, the MAb bound to predominant antigens with sizes of 200 and 220 kDa in erythrocyte lysates infected with strains from Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Texcoco (Mexico), Kenya, and Mexico. Major antigens with sizes of 200 and 220 kDa were isolated from a MAb 44.18 affinity matrix. Calf serum antibodies to these isolated antigens bound to erythrocytes infected with either the Mexico or Kenya strains as determined by live-cell immunofluorescence, allowing the conclusion that at least one conserved surface epitope was recognized. Calf serum antibodies identified major labeled proteins with sizes of 200 and 72 kDa by surface-specific immunoprecipitation, and infected erythrocytes sensitized with these antibodies were phagocytized by cultured bovine peripheral blood monocytes. These results provide a rationale for evaluating antigens identified by MAb 44.18 individually and as components of subunit vaccines.
A competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (CI ELISA) was developed to detect antibody to Babesia equi. One hundred fifty-four equine serum samples from 19 countries were tested for antibody to B. equi by the complement fixation test and by CI ELISA. The CI ELISA and complement fixation test results agreed in 94% (144) of the serum samples tested. The 10 discrepant serum samples were retested and analyzed for ability to immunoprecipitate in vitro translation products from B. equi merozoite mRNA. Five discrepant results were clearly resolved in favor of the CI ELISA, and the remaining five discrepancies were not definitively resolved.
In this study, the kinetics of specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotypes were characterized in Babesia equi (Theileria equi)-infected horses. IgGa and IgGb developed during acute infection, whereas IgG(T) was detected only after resolution of acute parasitemia. The same IgG isotype profile induced during acute infection was obtained by equi merozoite antigen 1/saponin immunization.
The gene fnz from Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus encodes a cell surface protein that binds fibronectin (Fn). Fifty tested isolates of S. equi subspecies equi all contain DNA sequences with similarity to fnz. This work describes the cloning and sequencing of a gene, designated fne, with similarity to fnz from two S. equi subspecies equi isolates. The DNA sequences were found to be identical in the two strains, and sequence comparison of the fne and fnz genes revealed only minor differences. However, one base deletion was found in the middle of the fne gene and eight base pairs downstream of the altered reading frame there is a stop codon. An Fn-binding protein was purified from the growth medium of a subspecies equi culture. Determination of the NH2-terminal amino acid sequence and molecular mass, as judged by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, revealed that the purified protein is the gene product of the 5′-terminal half of fne. Fn-binding activity has earlier only been found in the COOH-terminal half of FNZ. By the use of a purified recombinant protein containing the NH2 half of FNZ, we provide here evidence that this half of the protein also harbors an Fn-binding domain.
The ability of rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1) of Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina to confer partial protective immunity in cattle has stimulated interest in characterizing both B-cell and T-cell epitopes of these proteins. It was previously shown that B. bovis RAP-1 associates with the merozoite surface as well as rhoptries and expresses B-cell epitopes conserved among otherwise antigenically different B. bovis strains. An amino-terminal 307-amino-acid domain of the molecule that is highly conserved in the B. bigemina RAP-1 homolog did not contain cross-reactive B-cell epitopes. The studies reported here demonstrate that B. bovis RAP-1 is strongly immunogenic for T helper (Th) cells from B. bovis-immune cattle and that like B-cell epitopes, Th-cell epitopes are conserved in different B. bovis strains but not in B. bigemina RAP-1. Lymphocytes from cattle immune to challenge with the Mexico strain of B. bovis proliferated against recombinant B. bovis RAP-1 protein derived from the Mexico strain. T-cell lines established by stimulating lymphocytes with recombinant RAP-1 protein responded against B. bovis, but not B. bigemina, merozoites. T-cell lines established by repeated stimulation of lymphocytes with B. bovis membrane antigen proliferated strongly against RAP-1, demonstrating the immunodominant nature of this protein. RAP-1-specific CD4+ T cell clones recognized Mexico, Texas, Australia, and Israel strains of B. bovis but neither B. bigemina merozoites nor recombinant B. bigemina RAP- 1. Analysis of cytokine mRNA in RAP-1-specific Th cell clones revealed strong expression of gamma interferon but little or no expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, or IL-10. Gamma interferon production was confirmed by enzyme-linked imunosorbent assay. These results indicate the potential to use selected B. bovis RAP-1 peptides as immunogens to prime for strong, anamnestic, strain-cross-reactive type 1 immune responses upon exposure to B. bovis.
A hypervariable region (HVR) previously identified in the carboxy-terminal one-third of the Babesia bovis variable merozoite surface antigen family was more extensively analyzed in merozoite surface antigen 1 (MSA-1) from 16 strains and isolates. The MSA-1 HVR is proline rich and contains three semiconserved motifs nearly identical to those described for the related family member MSA-2. Two MSA-1-specific monoclonal antibodies previously shown to be reactive with the merozoite surface bound to a recombinant construct encoding the HVR, indicating that the HVR is surface exposed and accessible to antibody binding. Importantly, these surface-reactive, HVR-specific monoclonal antibodies were capable of inhibiting merozoite infectivity of the host erythrocyte in vivo. The results indicate that the MSA-1 HVR is involved in erythrocyte invasion and suggest that selection of MSA-1 variants may be driven by invasion-blocking antibodies.