To understand its potential to cause invasive disease, the genome of Mycoplasma canis strain PG14T from a dog's throat was compared to those of isolates from the genital tract or brain of dogs. The average nucleotide identity between strain pairs is 98%, and their genome annotations are similar.
Major surface protein 5 (Msp5) of Anaplasma marginale is highly conserved in the genus Anaplasma and the antigen used in a commercially available competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) for serologic identification of cattle with anaplasmosis. This study analyzes the degrees of conservation of Msp5 among various isolates of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and the extent of serologic cross-reactivity between recombinant Msp5 (rMsp5) of Anaplasma marginale and A. phagocytophilum. The msp5 genes from various isolates of A. phagocytophilum were sequenced and compared. rMsp5 proteins of A. phagocytophilum and A. marginale were used separately in an indirect ELISA to detect cross-reactivity in serum samples from humans and dogs infected with A. phagocytophilum and cattle infected with A. marginale. Serum samples were also tested with a commercially available competitive ELISA that uses monoclonal antibody ANAF16C1. There were 100% sequence identities in the msp5 genes among all of the A. phagocytophilum isolates from the United States and a horse isolate from Sweden. Sheep isolates from Norway and dog isolates from Sweden were 99% identical to one another but differed in 17 base pairs from the United States isolates and the horse isolate. Serologic cross-reactivity was identified when serum samples from cattle infected with A. marginale were reacted with rMsp5 of A. phagocytophilum and when serum samples from humans and dogs infected with A. phagocytophilum were reacted with rMsp5 of A. marginale in an indirect-ELISA format. Serum samples from dogs or humans infected with A. phagocytophilum did not cross-react with rMsp5 of A. marginale when tested with the commercially available cELISA. These results suggest that rMsp5 of A. phagocytophilum is highly conserved among United States and European isolates and that serologic distinction between A. phagocytophilum and A. marginale infections cannot be accomplished if rMsp5 from either organism is used in an indirect ELISA.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum is the causative agent of an emerging tick-borne zoonosis in the United States and Europe. The organism causes a febrile illness accompanied by other nonspecific symptoms and can be fatal, especially if treatment is delayed. Persistence of A. phagocytophilum within mammalian reservoir hosts is important for ensuring continued disease transmission. In the related organism Anaplasma marginale, persistence is associated with antigenic variation of the immunoprotective outer membrane protein MSP2. Extensive diversity of MSP2 is achieved by combinatorial gene conversion of a genomic expression site by truncated pseudogenes. The major outer membrane protein of A. phagocytophilum, MSP2(P44), is homologous to MSP2 of A. marginale, has a similar organization of conserved and variable regions, and is also encoded by a multigene family containing some truncated gene copies. This suggests that the two organisms could use similar mechanisms to generate diversity in outer membrane proteins from their small genomes. We define here a genomic expression site for MSP2(P44) in A. phagocytophilum. As in A. marginale, the msp2(p44) gene in this expression site is polymorphic in all populations of organisms we have examined, whether organisms are obtained from in vitro culture in human HL-60 cells, from culture in the tick cell line ISE6, or from infected human blood. Changes in culture conditions were found to favor the growth and predominance of certain msp2(p44) variants. Insertions, deletions, and substitutions in the region of the genomic expression site encoding the central hypervariable region matched sequence polymorphisms in msp2(p44) mRNA. These data suggest that, similarly to A. marginale, A. phagocytophilum uses combinatorial mechanisms to generate a large array of outer membrane protein variants. Such gene polymorphism has profound implications for the design of vaccines, diagnostic tests, and therapy.
The rickettsial pathogen Anaplasma marginale expresses a variable immunodominant outer membrane protein, major surface protein 2 (MSP2), involved in antigenic variation and long-term persistence of the organism in carrier animals. MSP2 contains a central hypervariable region of about 100 amino acids that encodes immunogenic B-cell epitopes that induce variant-specific antibodies during infection. Previously, we have shown that MSP2 is encoded on a polycistronic mRNA transcript in erythrocyte stages of A. marginale and defined the structure of the genomic expression site for this transcript. In this study, we show that the same expression site is utilized in stages of A. marginale infecting tick salivary glands. We also analyzed the variability of this genomic expression site in Oklahoma strain A. marginale transmitted from in vitro cultures to cattle and between cattle and ticks. The structure of the expression site and flanking regions was conserved except for sequence that encoded the MSP2 hypervariable region. At least three different MSP2 variants were encoded in each A. marginale population. The major sequence variants did not change on passage of A. marginale between culture, acute erythrocyte stage infections, and tick salivary glands but did change during persistent infections of cattle. The variant types found in tick salivary glands most closely resembled those present in bovine blood at the time of acquisition of infection, whether infection was acquired from an acute or from a persistent rickettsemia. These variations in structure of an expression site for a major, immunoprotective outer membrane protein have important implications for vaccine development and for obtaining an improved understanding of the mechanisms of persistence of ehrlichial infections in humans, domestic animals, and reservoir hosts.
Serological diagnosis of heartwater or Cowdria ruminantium infection has been hampered by severe cross-reactions with antibody responses to related ehrlichial agents. A MAP 1B indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that has an improved specificity and sensitivity for detection of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies has been developed to overcome this constraint (A. H. M. van Vliet, B. A. M. Van der Zeijst, E. Camus, S. M. Mahan, D. Martinez, and F. Jongejan, J. Clin. Microbiol. 33:2405–2410, 1995). When sera were tested from cattle in areas of endemic heartwater infection in Zimbabwe, only 33% of the samples tested positive in this assay despite a high infection pressure (S. M. Mahan, S. M. Samu, T. F. Peter, and F. Jongejan, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci 849:85–87, 1998). To determine underlying causes for this observation, the kinetics of MAP 1B-specific IgG antibodies in cattle after tick-transmitted C. ruminantium infection and following recovery were investigated. Sera collected weekly over a period of 52 weeks from 37 cattle, which were naturally or experimentally infected with C. ruminantium via Amblyomma hebraeum ticks, were analyzed. MAP 1B-specific IgG antibody responses developed with similar kinetics in both field- and laboratory-infected cattle. IgG levels peaked at 4 to 9 weeks after tick infestation and declined to baseline levels between 14 and 33 weeks, despite repeated exposure to infected ticks and the establishment of a carrier state as demonstrated by PCR and xenodiagnosis. Some of the serum samples from laboratory, and field-infected cattle were also analyzed by immunoblotting and an indirect fluorescent-antibody test (IFAT) to determine whether this observed seroreversion was specific to the MAP 1B antigen. Reciprocal IFAT and immunoblot MAP 1-specific antibody titres peaked at 5 to 9 weeks after tick infestation but also declined between 30 and 45 weeks. This suggests that MAP 1B-specific IgG antibody responses and antibody responses to other C. ruminantium antigens are down regulated in cattle despite repeated exposure to C. ruminantium via ticks. Significantly, serological responses to the MAP 1B antigen may not be a reliable indicator of C. ruminantium exposure in cattle in areas of endemic heartwater infection.
Anaplasma marginale, a tick-borne rickettsial pathogen of cattle, infects bovine erythrocytes, resulting in mild to severe hemolytic disease that causes economic losses in domestic livestock worldwide. Recently, the Virginia isolate of A. marginale was propagated in a continuous tick cell line, IDE8, derived from embryonic Ixodes scapularis. Development of A. marginale in cell culture was morphologically similar to that described previously in ticks. In order to evaluate the potential of the cell culture-derived organisms for use in future research or as an antigen for serologic tests and vaccines, the extent of structural conservation of the major surface proteins (MSPs) between the cell culture-derived A. marginale and the bovine erythrocytic stage, currently the source of A. marginale antigen, was determined. Structural conservation on the tick salivary-gland stage was also examined. Monoclonal and monospecific antisera against MSPs 1 through 5, initially characterized against erythrocyte stages, also reacted with A. marginale from cell culture and tick salivary glands. MSP1a among geographic A. marginale isolates is variable in size because of different numbers of a tandemly repeated 28- or 29-amino-acid peptide. The cell culture-derived A. marginale maintained the same-size MSP1a as that found on the Virginia isolate of A. marginale in bovine erythrocytes and tick salivary glands. Although differences were observed in the polymorphic MSP2 antigen between culture and salivary-gland stages, MSP2 did not appear to vary, by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, during continuous passage in culture. These data show that MSPs of erythrocyte-stage A. marginale are present on culture stages and may be structurally conserved during continuous culture. The presence of all current candidate diagnostic and vaccine antigens suggests that in vitro cultures are a valuable source of rickettsiae for basic research and for the development of improved diagnostic reagents and vaccines against anaplasmosis.
The immunodominant surface protein, MSP3, is structurally and antigenically polymorphic among strains of Anaplasma marginale. In this study we show that a polymorphic multigene family is at least partially responsible for the variation seen in MSP3. The A. marginale msp3 gene msp3-12 was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. With msp3-12 as a probe, multiple, partially homologous gene copies were identified in the genomes of three A. marginale strains. These copies were widely distributed throughout the chromosome. Sequence analysis of three unique msp3 genes, msp3-12, msp3-11, and msp3-19, revealed both conserved and variant regions within the open reading frames. Importantly, msp3 contains amino acid blocks related to another polymorphic multigene family product, MSP2. These data, in conjunction with data presented in previous studies, suggest that multigene families are used to vary important antigenic surface proteins of A. marginale. These findings may provide a basis for studying antigenic variation of the organism in persistently infected carrier cattle.
The susceptibility of laboratory reared Zimbabwean Amblyomma hebraeum and A. variegatum ticks to infection with geographically distinct Cowdria ruminantium strains was investigated by feeding both species simultaneously on individual sheep infected with one of the four strains (Crystal Springs [Zimbabwe], Ball 3 [South Africa], Gardel [Guadeloupe] and Nigeria [Nigeria]). A. hebraeum ticks demonstrated a high susceptibility to infection with all four C. ruminantium strains. In comparison, A. variegatum were less susceptible to infection with the Crystal Springs and Ball 3 strains (P < 0.001), but showed a similar susceptibility to the Gardel and Nigeria strains. The differences in susceptibility of A. variegatum to infection with the four strains of C. ruminantium correlated with the origin of these strains. The consistently higher susceptibility of A. hebraeum ticks to infection with geographically different C. ruminantium strains may be one explanation for the observation that heartwater is a more serious problem where A. hebraeum is the vector of the disease.
The genes for the immunodominant major antigenic protein 1 (MAP1) of Cowdria ruminantium from four African and two Caribbean isolates were cloned, restriction mapped, and sequenced to identify conserved epitopes for development of serodiagnostic tools for heartwater. Restriction length polymorphisms were observed among the respective MAP1 genes analyzed and were confirmed by sequencing. The sequence data generated for these isolates were compared with data for the previously reported Senegal isolate MAP1 gene. These sequences were found to differ from each other by 0.6 to 14.0%. These differences translate into a 0.8 to 10.0% variation in the predicted protein sequence. In the entire coding sequence, several amino acid substitutions were identified in addition to deletions or insertions at three regions of the gene. These variable regions are referred to as variable regions I, II, and III. From the sequence data, an evolutionary distance tree was constructed; this tree suggested that at least two genetically distinct C. ruminantium strains exist in the Caribbean: the isolate from Antigua is similar to that from Senegal, while the isolate from Guadeloupe is closely related to that from Sudan.
Antigenic variants of Anaplasma marginale major surface protein 2 (MSP-2), a target of protective immune responses, have been detected by use of copy-specific monoclonal antibodies reactive with some, but not all, organisms during acute rickettsemia. The presence of polymorphic msp-2 genes was confirmed by cloning and sequencing two gene copies, 11.2 and DF5, each of which encodes a full-length MSP-2 with a unique amino acid sequence. Transcription of msp-2 genes during acute rickettsemia was analyzed by use of cDNA cloning of hybrid-selected msp-2 mRNA. Sequencing of cDNA clones, designated AR1 to AR14, indicated that DF5 msp-2 was transcribed during acute rickettsemia. Two classes of variant msp-2 genes were also transcribed during acute rickettsemia. The first class of variant transcripts, typified by clones AR3, AR4, AR7, and AR14, each encoded a single or small number of amino acid substitutions relative to DF5. The second type, AR5, encoded a large region of amino acid polymorphism, including additions, deletions, and substitutions, as compared to DF5. Specific antibody directed against the AR5 polymorphic region bound a unique MSP-2 expressed on A. marginale that was not recognized by antibody generated against DF5. Similarly, anti-AR5 peptide antibody reacted with a different MSP-2 that was not bound by anti-DF5 antibody. This expression confirmed that variant msp-2 transcripts encode structurally distinct MSP-2 molecules which bear unique B-cell epitopes. These results support the hypothesis that the large msp-2 gene family, which constitutes a minimum of 1% of the genome, encodes antigenic variants critical to evasion of protective immune response directed against surface MSP-2 epitopes.
An immunodominant surface protein, major surface protein 3 (MSP3), has been proposed as an antigen suitable for use in the diagnosis of bovine anaplasmosis. We further characterized MSP3 to examine its potential as a test antigen for the serological diagnosis of carrier cattle. The specificity of this antigen in detecting infected cattle as well as the conservation of MSP3 between strains of Anaplasma marginale was evaluated by using immunoblots of A. marginale proteins separated by one- and two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoreses. Immune sera from animals infected with Anaplasma ovis, Ehrlichia risticii, and Ehrlichia ewingii reacted with the MSP3 antigen of A. marginale. One-dimensional gel electrophoresis of A. marginale proteins demonstrated size polymorphism of MSP3 between different geographic isolates. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed at least three different antigens migrating at the 86-kDa molecular size, and sera from animals infected with different strains of A. marginale reacted with different 86-kDa antigens. These results indicate that MSP3 may share cross-reactive epitopes with antigens found in A. ovis and some Ehrlichia spp. In addition, MSP3 is not conserved between different isolates of A. marginale, and at least in the isolate from Florida, what was previously identified as MSP3 is actually a group of three or more 86-kDa antigens with different isoelectric points. The cross-reactivity of MSP3 with some Ehrlichia spp., the variability of MSP3 between isolates, and the multiple 86-kDa antigens recognized by various sera suggest that MSP3 is not a suitable candidate for use as a recombinant test antigen.
The sensitivities of a PCR assay and a DNA probe assay were compared for the detection of Cowdria ruminantium in Amblyomma ticks that were fed on C. ruminantium-infected, clinically reacting, and recovered carrier animals. The PCR assay and DNA probe detected infection in 86.0 and 37.0%, respectively, of 100 ticks fed on a febrile animal. In 75 ticks fed on carrier animals, PCR and the DNA probe detected infection in 28.0 and 1.33% of ticks, respectively. This demonstrates that the DNA probe has poor sensitivity for the detection of low levels of infection in ticks and that PCR is necessary for this purpose. The PCR assay had a detection limit of between 1 and 10 C. ruminantium organisms and did not amplify DNA from Ehrlichia canis, which is phylogenetically closely related to C. ruminantium, Theileria parva, or uninfected Amblyomma hebraeum or A. variegatum. PCR detected infection in A. hebraeum and A. variegatum adult ticks infected with one of six geographically different C. ruminantium strains. Amplification was also possible from desiccated ticks and ticks fixed in 70% ethanol, 10% buffered formalin, or 2% glutaraldehyde. The PCR assay supersedes the DNA probe and older detection methods for the detection of C. ruminantium in ticks, particularly those fed on carrier animals, and is suitable for both prospective and retrospective studies which require accurate detection of C. ruminantium in individual ticks. Application of the PCR assay should significantly improve the understanding of heartwater epidemiology, particularly through the determination of field tick infection rates.
An immunodominant response is made to a polypeptide of approximately 32 kDa in animals infected with the rickettsial pathogen Cowdria ruminantium. We show here using cultured strains of the rickettsia from different geographical areas that the apparent size of this polypeptide varies with strain origin. Changes in the primary structure between strains should be considered in the design of vaccines and diagnostic tests based on this antigen.
Genes for the MSP1a and MSP1b subunits of the Anaplasma marginale surface antigen complex MSP1 were previously cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. We report here the localization of MSP1a and MSP1b polypeptides on the surface of recombinant E. coli by using a live cell indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay. Recombinant E. coli cells expressing the msp1 alpha gene or the msp1 beta gene encoding the MSP1a and MSP1b polypeptide subunits, respectively, were shown by a culture recovery adhesion assay and by direct microscopic examination to specifically adhere to bovine erythrocytes. This adhesion was more than additive when both genes were coexpressed in a single recombinant construct. Similarly, these recombinants hemagglutinated bovine erythrocytes in a microtiter hemagglutination assay. Inhibition of recombinant E. coli adhesion to bovine erythrocytes and hemagglutination inhibition were observed in the presence of homologous monospecific polyclonal antiserum raised against purified MSP1a or MSP1b polypeptide. These data suggest that the MSP1a and MSP1b polypeptides have functions as adhesins on A. marginale initial bodies, probably during erythrocyte invasion.
An Anaplasma marginale Florida msp-2 gene was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and Southern blot analysis revealed the presence of multiple msp-2 gene copies that were widely distributed throughout the chromosomes of all three strains examined. Genomic polymorphism among copies was greatest in the 5' end of msp-2 but also occurred in 3' regions. The presence of gene-copy-specific epitopes was indicated by the reactivity of the cloned msp-2 copy with some, but not all, monoclonal antibodies that bound native MSP-2. Multiple antigenically distinct MSP-2 molecules were expressed within strains and were coexpressed by individual A. marginale organisms. These results suggest that expression of polymorphic msp-2 gene copies is responsible for the significant percentages of A. marginale organisms within strains that do not react with individual anti-MSP-2 monoclonal antibodies. Sequence analysis revealed highly significant MSP-2 homology with two rickettsial surface proteins, A. marginale MSP-4 and Cowdria ruminantium MAP-1. Immunization with MSP-4 has been shown to induce protective immunity in a manner similar to that of immunization with MSP-2. These findings support the hypothesis that A. marginale surface proteins are targets of protective immune responses but are antigenically polymorphic.
A DNA probe, pCS20, previously described for use in detection of Cowdria ruminantium infections in Amblyomma variegatum (the principal vector of heartwater) hybridized with C. ruminantium DNA in organs of laboratory-infected A. hebraeum adult ticks (the major southern African vector of heartwater). The probe hybridized with C. ruminantium DNA in 46/49 midguts from male ticks and 26/29 from females, thus indicating infection. Corresponding salivary glands were less heavily infected, but infections were more numerous in glands from males. Infection in ticks was confirmed by transmission of the disease to susceptible goats. The probe did not hybridize with DNA from uninfected ticks or with DNA from a spotted fever group rickettsia commonly associated with A. hebraeum in Zimbabwe. The C. ruminantium specific pCS20 DNA probe can be applied to determine accurately the infection rates in the two major vectors of heartwater and the risk of exposure of ruminants in endemic areas.
Defining conserved, protective epitopes is essential to the design of an effective vaccine against bovine anaplasmosis. MSP4, one of six initial body proteins recognized by a neutralizing serum, is conserved among Anaplasma marginale isolates at both the protein and the DNA levels. Sera from cattle immunized with an outer membrane fraction of A. marginale and protected from a virulent challenge bind MSP4. The gene for MSP4 has been cloned, and the recombinant protein has been expressed, isolated, and demonstrated to share epitopes with the native protein expressed on initial bodies. MSP4 may have a greater potential to protect cattle from a challenge by heterologous isolates than other A. marginale surface proteins, which vary widely in size and structure.
Heartwater, a major constraint to improved livestock production in Zimbabwe, threatens to invade areas which have been previously unaffected. To monitor its spread in Zimbabwe, an immunoblotting diagnostic assay based on the responses of animals to the immunodominant, conserved 32-kDa protein of Cowdria ruminantium was evaluated. In this assay, no false reactions were detected with sera known to be positive and negative, but sera from some cattle, sheep, and goats from heartwater-free areas of Zimbabwe reacted strongly with the 32-kDa protein, suggesting that either these animals had previous exposure to heartwater or they were false positives. To investigate the possibility of previous exposure to heartwater, 11 immunoblot-positive and 6 immunoblot-negative sheep from heartwater-free areas of Zimbabwe were compared regarding their susceptibilities to challenge with C. ruminantium. Prior to challenge, C. ruminantium could not be detected in any sheep by transmission to Amblyomma hebraeum ticks or by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) conducted with plasma samples. All sheep were equally susceptible to the challenge, and infection was confirmed by brain biopsy, necropsy, PCR, and transmission of C. ruminantium to ticks. Our data suggest that the immunoblot-positive reactions of sera from heartwater-free areas were due not to previous C. ruminantium infection but rather to antigenic cross-reactivity between C. ruminantium and another agent(s) such as Ehrlichia species. In conclusion, the immunodominant 32-kDa protein is not antigenically specific to C. ruminantium and its use in serological diagnosis of heartwater requires reevaluation.
The DNA probe pCS20, which was cloned from the DNA of the Crystal Springs heartwater strain from Zimbabwe, cross-reacted with DNAs of heartwater strains from all endemic areas, including four heartwater strains from Zimbabwe, two strains from South Africa, one strain from Nigeria, and the Gardel strain from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. By nucleic acid hybridization, the pCS20 DNA probe detected Cowdria ruminantium DNA in all DNA preparations made from plasma samples from infected sheep before and during the febrile reaction. Synthetic oligonucleotides were prepared for amplification of specific C. ruminantium DNA sequences by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Amplification of two DNA products (181 and 279 bp) from pCS20 DNA and C. ruminantium genomic DNA of heartwater strains was demonstrated. In contrast, amplification of these products or any other products was not possible from genomic DNAs of Anaplasma marginale, Babesia bigemina, Trypanosoma brucei brucei, Escherichia coli, and bovine endothelial cells. The cross-reactivities of the 32P-labeled PCR products with genomic DNAs from several heartwater strains were similar to those with the pCS20 DNA probe. A nucleic acid-based test that uses hybridization assays and PCR provides a sensitive method for the detection of heartwater in both animals and ticks and has applications in epidemiological studies for the disease, which may allow for improved disease control.
Heartwater, caused by Cowdria ruminantium and transmitted by ticks of the genus Amblyomma, is a constraint to ruminant animal production in sub-Saharan Africa. This rickettsial disease could spread from endemically infected areas of sub-Saharan Africa and certain Caribbean islands to other countries, including the United States, in which Amblyomma ticks exist. To detect C. ruminantium in tick vectors and animals, we made DNA probes from C. ruminantium DNA isolated from endothelial cell cultures. Two clones were evaluated; pCS20 from Crystal Springs (Zimbabwe) strain DNA had a 1,306-bp insert, and pCR9 from Kiswani (Kenya) strain DNA had a 754-bp insert. Both DNA probes detected 1 ng of Crystal Springs DNA; however, the pCS20 probe had a 10-fold-greater ability to discriminate between C. ruminantium DNA and DNA from other organisms. Also, the pCS20 probe did not hybridize to 400 ng (highest amount tested) of DNA from bovine cells, 3 protozoa, 3 rickettsiae, and 12 bacteria. In all experiments, C. ruminantium DNA was detected in midguts from 99 of 160 Amblyomma variegatum nymphs infected as larvae and in midguts from 38 of 80 adult ticks infected as nymphs but not in midguts from control nymphs and adults. The presence of C. ruminantium in nymphs and adults was confirmed by transmission of heartwater to goats. The DNA sequences of both probes were determined; synthetic oligonucleotides from pCS20 are recommended as DNA probes for C. ruminantium.
A gene for the beta subunit of the immunoprotective surface antigen MSP-1 of Anaplasma marginale was previously cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. A nucleic acid probe based on this gene detects A. marginale infection in carrier cattle and in the tick vector. We report here the sequence and structural features of the cloned msp1 beta gene and expressed polypeptide. The gene codes for a polypeptide of 756 amino acids that contains domains of tandemly repeated sequence and glutamine-rich regions at the N and C termini. The cloned copy is a member of a multigene family with multiple restriction fragment length polymorphisms in isolates of this rickettsia from different geographical regions. The availability of the sequence will allow use of the polymerase chain reaction in diagnostic assays and the preparation and testing of different vaccine constructs in cattle.
The Anaplasma marginale surface protein complex MSP-1 of the Florida isolate is composed of a 105-kilodalton (kDa) polypeptide, which bears a neutralization-sensitive epitope, and a 100-kDa polypeptide. Antigenically similar polypeptides in the Okanogan, Wash. (Washington-O), isolate MSP-1 are 86 and 100 kDa, respectively. Immunization of cattle with Florida isolate MSP-1 induced antibody titers to both MSP-1 polypeptides and protected cattle against homologous and heterologous challenge.
Cattle which have recovered from acute infection with Anaplasma marginale, a rickettsial hemoparasite of cattle, frequently remain persistently infected with a low-level parasitemia and serve as reservoirs for disease transmission. To fully understand the role of these carriers in disease prevalence and transmission, it is essential that low levels of parasitemia can be accurately detected and quantitated. We have developed a nucleic acid probe, derived from a portion of a gene encoding a 105,000-molecular-weight surface protein, that can detect A. marginale-infected erythrocytes. The probe is specific for A. marginale and can detect 0.01 ng of genomic DNA and 500 to 1,000 infected erythrocytes in 0.5 ml of blood, which is equivalent to a parasitemia of 0.000025%. This makes the probe at least 4,000 times more sensitive than light microscopy. Hybridization of the probe with treated blood from animals proven to be carriers of anaplasmosis showed that parasitemia levels were highly variable among carriers, ranging from greater than 0.0025 to less than 0.000025%. Parasitemia levels of individual animals on different dates were also variable. These results imply that, at any given time, individuals within a group of cattle may differ significantly in their abilities to transmit disease.