Hyperimmune horse serum from a single animal (horse 46) immunized with group B (strain B-11) meningococcal vaccine provides a standardized, readily available diagnostic reagent used in primary isolation medium and for serogrouping of meningococci. Identification of the heavy-chain isotypes of specific anticapsular polysaccharide and anti-lipopolysaccharide isolated from horse 46 serum revealed a differential distribution in the occurrence of immunoglobulin classes. Meningococcal anticapsular antibodies of horse 46 serum were restricted predominately to the immunoglobulin M (IgM) class, with only trace amounts of IgGa present, whereas anti-lipopolysaccharide concomitantly produced showed a heterogeneity in its heavy-chain isotypes, consisting of IgM, IgGa, IgGb, moderate amounts of IgB, and a small amount of IgA.
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.
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 objectives of this study were to compare relative vaccine-specific serum immunoglobulin concentrations, vaccine-specific lymphoproliferative responses, and cytokine profiles of proliferating lymphocytes between 3-day-old foals, 3-month-old foals, and adult horses after vaccination with a killed adjuvanted vaccine. Horses were vaccinated intramuscularly twice at 3-week intervals with a vaccine containing antigens from bovine viral respiratory pathogens to avoid interference from maternal antibody. Both groups of foals and adult horses responded to the vaccine with a significant increase in vaccine-specific IgGa and IgG(T) concentrations. In contrast, only adult horses and 3-month-old foals mounted significant vaccine-specific total IgG, IgGb, and IgM responses. Vaccine-specific concentrations of IgM and IgG(T) were significantly different between all groups, with the highest concentrations occurring in adult horses, followed by 3-month-old foals and, finally, 3-day-old foals. Only the adult horses mounted significant vaccine-specific lymphoproliferative responses. Baseline gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) concentrations were significantly lower in 3-day-old foals than in adult horses. Vaccination resulted in a significant decrease in IFN-γ concentrations in adult horses and a significant decrease in IL-4 concentrations in 3-day-old foals. After vaccination, the ratio of IFN-γ/IL-4 in both groups of foals was significantly higher than that in adult horses. The results of this study indicate that the humoral and lymphoproliferative immune responses to this killed adjuvanted vaccine are modest in newborn foals. Although immune responses improve with age, 3-month-old foals do not respond with the same magnitude as adult horses.
Theileria equi has a biphasic life cycle in horses, with a period of intraleukocyte development followed by patent erythrocytic parasitemia that causes acute and sometimes fatal hemolytic disease. Unlike Theileria spp. that infect cattle (Theileria parva and Theileria annulata), the intraleukocyte stage (schizont) of Theileria equi does not cause uncontrolled host cell proliferation or other significant pathology. Nevertheless, schizont-infected leukocytes are of interest because of their potential to alter host cell function and because immune responses directed against this stage could halt infection and prevent disease. Based on cellular morphology, Theileria equi has been reported to infect lymphocytes in vivo and in vitro, but the specific phenotype of schizont-infected cells has yet to be defined. To resolve this knowledge gap in Theileria equi pathogenesis, peripheral blood mononuclear cells were infected in vitro and the phenotype of infected cells determined using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. These experiments demonstrated that the host cell range of Theileria equi was broader than initially reported and included B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and monocyte/macrophages. To determine if B and T lymphocytes were required to establish infection in vivo, horses affected with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which lack functional B and T lymphocytes, were inoculated with Theileria equi sporozoites. SCID horses developed patent erythrocytic parasitemia, indicating that B and T lymphocytes are not necessary to complete the Theileria equi life cycle in vivo. These findings suggest that the factors mediating Theileria equi leukocyte invasion and intracytoplasmic differentiation are common to several leukocyte subsets and are less restricted than for Theileria annulata and Theileria parva. These data will greatly facilitate future investigation into the relationships between Theileria equi leukocyte tropism and pathogenesis, breed susceptibility, and strain virulence.
The protozoan parasite Babesia equi replicates within erythrocytes. During the acute phase of infection, B. equi can reach high levels of parasitemia, resulting in a hemolytic crisis. Horses that recover from the acute phase of the disease remain chronically infected. Subsequent transmission is dependent upon the ability of vector ticks to acquire B. equi and, following development and replication, establishment of B. equi in the salivary glands. Although restriction of the movement of chronically infected horses with B. equi is based on the presumption that ticks can acquire and transmit the parasite at low levels of long-term infection, parasitemia levels during the chronic phase of infection have never been quantified, nor has transmission been demonstrated. To address these epidemiologically significant questions, we established long-term B. equi infections (>1 year), measured parasitemia levels over time, and tested whether nymphal Boophilus microplus ticks could acquire and, after molting to the adult stage, transmit B. equi to naive horses. B. equi levels during the chronic phase of infection ranged from 103.3 to 106.0/ml of blood, with fluctuation over time within individual horses. B. microplus ticks fed on chronically infected horses with mean parasite levels of 105.5 ± 100.48/ml of blood acquired B. equi, with detection of B. equi in the salivary glands of 7 to 50% of fed ticks, a range encompassing the percentage of positive ticks that had been identically fed on a horse in the acute phase of infection with high parasitemia levels. Ticks that acquired B. equi from chronically infected horses, as well as those fed during the acute phase of infection, successfully transmitted the parasite to naive horses. The results unequivocally demonstrated that chronically infected horses with low-level parasitemia are competent mammalian reservoirs for tick transmission of B. equi.
Rhodococcus equi causes severe pyogranulomatous pneumonia in foals and in immunocompromised humans. Replication of virulent isolates within macrophages correlates with the presence of a large plasmid which encodes a family of seven virulence-associated proteins (VapA and VapC to VapH), whose functions are unknown. Although cell-mediated immunity is thought to be crucial in eliminating R. equi infection, antibody partially protects foals. The antibody response to both VapA and VapC was similar in six adult horses and six naturally exposed but healthy foals, as well as in eight foals with R. equi pneumonia. The immunoglobulin G (IgG) subisotype response of pneumonic foals to Vap proteins was significantly IgGb biased and also had a trend toward higher IgGT association compared to the isotype association of antibody in adult horses and healthy exposed foals. This suggests that in horses, IgGb and IgGT are Th2 isotypes and IgGa is a Th1 isotype. Furthermore, it suggests that foals which develop R. equi pneumonia have a Th2-biased, ineffective immune response whereas foals which become immune develop a Th1-biased immune response. Pneumonic foals had significantly more antibody to VapD and VapE than did healthy exposed foals. This may indicate a difference in the expression of these two Vap proteins during persistent infection. Alternatively, in pneumonic foals the deviation of the immune response toward VapD and VapE may reflect a bias unfavorable to R. equi resistance. These data indicate possible age-related differences in the equine immune response affecting Th1-Th2 bias as well as antibody specificity bias, which together favor the susceptibility of foals to R. equi pneumonia.
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.
Theileria equi immune plasma was infused into young horses (foals) with severe combined immunodeficiency. Although all foals became infected following intravenous challenge with homologous T. equi merozoite stabilate, delayed time to peak parasitemia occurred. Protective effects were associated with a predominance of passively transferred merozoite-specific IgG3.
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.
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.
Homology in the 16S rDNAs shows that the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) is closely related to the veterinary pathogens Erlichia equi and Erlichia phagocytophila. After HGE, patients develop antibodies reactive with E. equi and E. phagocytophila; thus, we hypothesized that these species are closely related and share significant antigenicity. Antisera from humans, horses, dogs, and cattle were tested by indirect fluorescent-antibody assay (IFA) for antibodies reactive with E. equi and other ehrlichiae and tested by immunoblot to identify the specific reactions with E. equi. All convalescent-phase sera from human patients with HGE and from animals infected or immunized with E. equi or E. phagocytophila had antibodies reactive with E. equi by IFA; no reactions with Ehrlichia chaffeensis occurred with these sera, and only one horse naturally infected with E. equi had a serologic reaction against Ehrlichia sennetsu. Human and animal sera obtained after infection or immunization with other Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Bartonella species did not react with E. equi by IFA. E. equi immunoblots revealed as many as 19 bands with equine anti-E. equi serum. All HGE agent, E. equi, and E. phagocytophila antisera tested reacted with a 44-kDa antigen of E. equi, while other anti-Ehrlichia spp. sera reacted with this antigen rarely or not at all. HGE agent, E. equi, and E. phagocytophila antisera but not other sera also reacted occasionally with 25-, 42-, and 100-kDa antigens. Most sera reacted with antigens between approximately 56 and 75 kDa, probably heat shock proteins. The HGE agent, E. equi, and E. phagocytophila share significant antigenicity by IFA and immunoblot.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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.
Tick-borne pathogens may be transmitted intrastadially and transstadially within a single vector generation as well as vertically between generations. Understanding the mode and relative efficiency of this transmission is required for infection control. In this study, we established that adult male Rhipicephalus microplus ticks efficiently acquire the protozoal pathogen Babesia equi during acute and persistent infections and transmit it intrastadially to naïve horses. Although the level of parasitemia during acquisition feeding affected the efficiency of the initial tick infection, infected ticks developed levels of ≥104 organisms/pair of salivary glands independent of the level of parasitemia during acquisition feeding and successfully transmitted them, indicating that replication within the tick compensated for any initial differences in infectious dose and exceeded the threshold for transmission. During the development of B. equi parasites in the salivary gland granular acini, the parasites expressed levels of paralogous surface proteins significantly different from those expressed by intraerythrocytic parasites from the mammalian host. In contrast to the successful intrastadial transmission, adult female R. microplus ticks that fed on horses with high parasitemia passed the parasite vertically into the eggs with low efficiency, and the subsequent generation (larvae, nymphs, and adults) failed to transmit B. equi parasites to naïve horses. The data demonstrated that intrastadial but not transovarial transmission is an efficient mode for B. equi transmission and that persistently infected horses are an important reservoir for transmission. Consequently, R. microplus male ticks and persistently infected horses should be targeted for disease control.
Humoral immune response to intestinal Rhodococcus (Corynebacterium) equi in horses was studied by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Anti-R. equi immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgG, and IgA antibodies were demonstrated in the healthy horse population. Adult horse levels of anti-R. equi IgM and IgG antibodies were reached by 5 to 9 weeks of age in two healthy newborn foals. R. equi was recovered from the foals in the range of 10(3) to 10(4) per g of intestinal contents. A 1-week-old foal was infected with R. equi by mouth daily for 9 weeks. The foal did not show any clinical signs of illness. Anti-R. equi IgM antibody values in the foal increased about 5 to 8 weeks after initial inoculation, similar to the naturally occurring immune response to intestinal R. equi. There were differences among the antibody responses to R. equi in healthy horses, foals with suspected infection, and infected foals. These results suggest that exposure to R. equi is widespread in the horse population and that intestinal R. equi is the most important source of antigenic stimulation for a naturally occurring immune response in horses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Transmission of arthropod-borne apicomplexan parasites that cause disease and result in death or persistent infection represents a major challenge to global human and animal health. First described in 1901 as Piroplasma equi, this re-emergent apicomplexan parasite was renamed Babesia equi and subsequently Theileria equi, reflecting an uncertain taxonomy. Understanding mechanisms by which apicomplexan parasites evade immune or chemotherapeutic elimination is required for development of effective vaccines or chemotherapeutics. The continued risk of transmission of T. equi from clinically silent, persistently infected equids impedes the goal of returning the U. S. to non-endemic status. Therefore comparative genomic analysis of T. equi was undertaken to: 1) identify genes contributing to immune evasion and persistence in equid hosts, 2) identify genes involved in PBMC infection biology and 3) define the phylogenetic position of T. equi relative to sequenced apicomplexan parasites.
The known immunodominant proteins, EMA1, 2 and 3 were discovered to belong to a ten member gene family with a mean amino acid identity, in pairwise comparisons, of 39%. Importantly, the amino acid diversity of EMAs is distributed throughout the length of the proteins. Eight of the EMA genes were simultaneously transcribed. As the agents that cause bovine theileriosis infect and transform host cell PBMCs, we confirmed that T. equi infects equine PBMCs, however, there is no evidence of host cell transformation. Indeed, a number of genes identified as potential manipulators of the host cell phenotype are absent from the T. equi genome. Comparative genomic analysis of T. equi revealed the phylogenetic positioning relative to seven apicomplexan parasites using deduced amino acid sequences from 150 genes placed it as a sister taxon to Theileria spp.
The EMA family does not fit the paradigm for classical antigenic variation, and we propose a novel model describing the role of the EMA family in persistence. T. equi has lost the putative genes for host cell transformation, or the genes were acquired by T. parva and T. annulata after divergence from T. equi. Our analysis identified 50 genes that will be useful for definitive phylogenetic classification of T. equi and closely related organisms.
Apicomplexa; Parasite; Vaccine; Horse; Vector-borne disease
Equi merozoite antigen 1 (EMA-1) is an immunodominant Babesia equi erythrocyte-stage surface protein. A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), based on inhibition of monoclonal antibody (MAb) 36/133.97 binding to recombinant EMA-1 by equine anti-B. equi antibodies, detects horses infected with strains present throughout the world. The objectives of this study were to define the epitope bound by MAb 36/133.97 and quantify the amino acid conservation of EMA-1, including the region containing the epitope bound by MAb 36/133.97. The alignment of the deduced amino acid sequence of full-length EMA-1 (Florida isolate) with 15 EMA-1 sequences from geographically distinct isolates showed 82.8 to 99.6% identities (median, 98.5%) and 90.5 to 99.6% similarities (median, 98.9%) between sequences. Full-length and truncated recombinant EMA-1 proteins were expressed and tested for their reactivities with MAb 36/133.97. Binding required the presence of amino acids on both N- and C-terminal regions of a truncated peptide (EMA-1.2) containing amino acids 1 to 98 of EMA-1. This result indicated that the epitope defined by MAb 36/133.97 is dependent on conformation. Sera from persistently infected horses inhibited the binding of MAb 36/133.97 to EMA-1.2 in a competitive ELISA, indicating that equine antibodies which inhibit binding of MAb 36/133.97 also recognize epitopes in the same region (the first 98 residues). Within this region, the deduced amino acid sequences had 85.7 to 100% identities (median, 99.0%), with similarities of 94.9 to 100% (median, 100%). Therefore, the region which binds to both MAb 36/133.97 and inhibiting equine antibodies has a median amino acid identity of 99.0% and a similarity of 100%. These data provide a molecular basis for the use of both EMA-1 and MAb 36/133.97 for the detection of antibodies against B. equi.
The secreted Mac protein made by group A Streptococcus (GAS) inhibits opsonophagocytosis of GAS by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). This protein also has the endopeptidase activity against human immunoglobulin G (IgG), and the Cys94, His262 and Asp284 are critical for the enzymatic activity. The horse pathogen Streptococcus equi subspecies equi produces a homologue of Mac (SeMac). SeMac was characterized to determine whether SeMac has IgG endopeptidase activity and inhibits opsonophagocytosis of S. equi by horse PMNs. The gene was cloned and recombinant SeMac was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. Mice with experimental S. equi infection and horses with strangles caused by S. equi seroconverted to SeMac, indicating that SeMac is produced in vivo during infection. SeMac has endopeptidase activity against human IgG. However, the protein just cleaves a small fraction, which may be IgG1 only, of horse IgG. Replacement of Cys102 with Ser or His272 with Ala abolishes the enzymatic activity of SeMac, and the Asp294Ala mutation greatly decreases the enzymatic activity. SeMac does not inhibit opsonophagocytosis of S. equi by horse PMNs but opsonophagocytosis of GAS by human PMNs. Thus, SeMac is a cysteine endopeptidase with a limited activity against horse IgG and must have other function.
IgG; Endopeptidase SeMac; opsonophagocytosis; polymorphonuclear leukocytes.
Serum specimens from persons with or without Lyme borreliosis were analyzed by indirect fluorescent antibody staining methods for total immunoglobulins to Babesia microti, Ehrlichia chaffeensis (Arkansas strain), and Ehrlichia equi (MRK strain). There was serologic evidence of human exposure to multiple tick-borne agents in 15 (6.6%) of 227 serum samples obtained in Connecticut and Minnesota. Of these, 10 serum samples were from Connecticut patients who had erythema migrans and antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi (range, 1:160 to 1:40, 960). A maximal antibody titer of 1:640 was noted for a B. microti infection, whereas titration end points of 1:640 and 1:1,280 were recorded for E. chaffeensis and E. equi seropositives, respectively. In specificity tests, there was no cross-reactivity among the antisera and antigens tested for the four tick-borne pathogens. On the basis of serologic testing, a small group of persons who had Lyme borreliosis had been exposed to one or more other tick-borne agents, but there was no clinical diagnosis of babesiosis or ehrlichiosis. Therefore, if the clinical picture is unclear or multiple tick-associated illnesses are suspected, more extensive laboratory testing is suggested.
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.