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1.  Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of Orientia tsutsugamushi Based on the groES and groEL Genes 
Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases  2013;13(11):825-829.
DNA sequences encoding the GroES and GroEL proteins of Orientia tsutsugamushi were amplified by the PCR and sequenced. Pairwise alignment of full-length groES and groEL gene sequences indicated high sequence similarity (90.4–100% and 90.3–100%) in O. tsutsugamushi, suggesting that these genes are good candidates for the molecular diagnosis and phylogenetic analysis of scrub typhus. Comparisons of the 56-kD type-specific antigen (TSA) protein gene and the groES and groEL genes showed that genotypes based on the 56-kD TSA gene were not related to a cluster containing the groES and groEL genes in a dendrogram, suggesting that a gene rearrangement may be associated with homologous recombination in mites.
PMCID: PMC3822374  PMID: 24107204
Orientia tsutsugamushi; groES and groEL genes; Phylogeny; Scrub typhus; Japan
2.  Sika Deer Carrying Babesia Parasites Closely Related to B. divergens, Japan 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(8):1398-1400.
PMCID: PMC4111200  PMID: 25061853
Babesia divergens; sika deer; Cervus nippon; emerging disease; tickborne disease; zoonoses; Japan; parasites
3.  Detection of Two Zoonotic Babesia microti Lineages, the Hobetsu and U.S. Lineages, in Two Sympatric Tick Species, Ixodes ovatus and Ixodes persulcatus, Respectively, in Japan 
The species Babesia microti, commonly found in rodents, demonstrates a high degree of genetic diversity. Three lineages, U.S., Kobe, and Hobetsu, are known to have zoonotic potential, but their tick vector(s) in Japan remains to be elucidated. We conducted a field investigation at Nemuro on Hokkaido Island and at Sumoto on Awaji Island, where up to two of the three lineages occur with similar frequencies in reservoirs. By flagging vegetation at these spots and surrounding areas, 4,010 ticks, comprising six species, were collected. A nested PCR that detects the 18S rRNA gene of Babesia species revealed that Ixodes ovatus and I. persulcatus alone were positive. Lineage-specific PCR for rRNA-positive samples demonstrated that I. ovatus and I. persulcatus carried, respectively, the Hobetsu and U.S. parasites. No Kobe-specific DNA was detected. Infected I. ovatus ticks were found at multiple sites, including Nemuro and Sumoto, with minimum infection rates (MIR) of ∼12.3%. However, all I. persulcatus ticks collected within the same regions, a total of 535, were negative for the Hobetsu lineage, indicating that I. ovatus, but not I. persulcatus, was the vector for the lineage. At Nemuro, U.S. lineage was detected in 2 of 139 adult I. persulcatus ticks (MIR, 1.4%), for the first time, while 48 of I. ovatus ticks were negative for that lineage. Laboratory experiments confirmed the transmission of Hobetsu and U.S. parasites to hamsters via I. ovatus and I. persulcatus, respectively. Differences in vector capacity shown by MIRs at Nemuro, where the two species were equally likely to acquire either lineage of parasite, may explain the difference in distribution of Hobetsu throughout Japan and U.S. taxa in Nemuro. These findings are of importance in the assessment of the regional risk for babesiosis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3346458  PMID: 22389378
4.  Identification and Phylogenetic Analysis of Japanese Macaque Babesia-1 (JM-1) detected from a Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata fuscata) 
We demonstrate here the identification and phylogenetic characterization of Babesia microti (B. microti)-like parasite detected from a splenectomized Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata fuscata) at a facility for laboratory animal science. On Day 133 after splenectomy, intra-erythrocytic parasites were found on light microscopic examination, and the level of parasitemia reached 0.3% on blood smear. Molecular characterization of the parasite using nested-polymerization chain reactions targeting the 18S rRNA, β-tubulin, and subunit 7 (eta) of the chaperonin-containing t-complex polypeptide 1 (CCT7) genes were identified as a B. microti-like parasite, designated the Japanese Macaque Babesia-1 (JM-1).
PMCID: PMC3183768  PMID: 21976563
5.  Identification of newly isolated Babesia parasites from cattle in Korea by using the Bo-RBC-SCID mice 
Attempts were made to isolate and identify Korean bovine Babesia parasite. Blood samples were collected from Holstein cows in Korea, and Babesia parasites were propagated in SCID mice with circulating bovine red blood cells for isolation. The isolate was then antigenically and genotypically compared with several Japanese isolates. The Korean parasite was found to be nearly identical to the Oshima strain isolated from Japanese cattle, which was recently designated as Babesia ovata oshimensis n. var. Haemaphysalis longicornis was the most probable tick species that transmited the parasite.
PMCID: PMC2721053  PMID: 11949211
babesiosis; SCID mice; western blotting; polymerase chain reaction; phylogeny; Haemaphysalis longicornis
6.  Human Babesiosis in Japan: Epizootiologic Survey of Rodent Reservoir and Isolation of New Type of Babesia microti-Like Parasite 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(12):4316-4322.
We have carried out epizootiologic surveys at various sites in Japan to investigate wild animals that serve as reservoirs for the agents of human babesiosis in the country. Small mammals comprising six species, Apodemus speciosus, Apodemus argenteus, Clethrionomys rufocanus, Eothenomys smithii, Crocidura dsinezumi, and Sorex unguiculatus, were trapped at various places, including Hokkaido, Chiba, Shiga, Hyogo, Shimane, and Tokushima Prefectures. Animals harboring Babesia microti-like parasites were detected in all six prefectures. Inoculation of their blood samples into hamsters gave rise to a total of 20 parasite isolates; 19 were from A. speciosus, and the other 1 was from C. rufocanus. Sequencing of the parasite small-subunit rRNA gene (rDNA) sequence revealed that 2 of the 20 isolates were classified as Kobe type because their rDNAs were identical to that of the Kobe strain (the strain from the Japanese index case). The other 18 isolates were classified as a new type, designated the Hobetsu type, because they all shared an identical rDNA sequence which differed significantly from both that of Kobe-type isolates and that of northeastern United States B. microti (U.S. type). The parasites with Kobe-, Hobetsu- and U.S.-type rDNAs were phylogenetically closely related to each other but clearly different from each other antigenically. The isolates from rodents were demonstrated to be infective for human erythrocytes by inoculation into SCID mice whose erythrocytes had been replaced with human erythrocytes. The results suggest that a new type of B. microti-like parasite, namely, the Hobetsu type, is the major one which is prevalent among Japanese wild rodents, that A. speciosus serves as a major reservoir for both Kobe- and Hobetsu-type B. microti-like parasites, and that C. rufocanus may also be an additional reservoir on Hokkaido Island.
PMCID: PMC88542  PMID: 11724838
7.  Human Babesiosis in Japan: Isolation of Babesia microti-Like Parasites from an Asymptomatic Transfusion Donor and from a Rodent from an Area Where Babesiosis Is Endemic 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(6):2178-2183.
To determine the source of infection for the Japanese index case of human babesiosis, we analyzed blood samples from an asymptomatic individual whose blood had been transfused into the patient. In addition, we surveyed rodents collected from near the donor's residence. Examination by microscopy and PCR failed to detect the parasite in the donor's blood obtained 8 months after the donation of the blood that was transfused. However, we were able to isolate Babesia parasites by inoculating the blood sample into SCID mice whose circulating red blood cells (RBCs) had been replaced with human RBCs. A Babesia parasite capable of propagating in human RBCs was also isolated from a field mouse (Apodemus speciosus) captured near the donor's residential area. Follow-up surveys over a 1-year period revealed that the donor continued to be asymptomatic but had consistently high immunoglobulin G (IgG) titers in serum and low levels of parasitemia which were microscopically undetectable yet which were repeatedly demonstrable by inoculation into animals. The index case patient's sera contained high titers of IgM and, subsequently, rising titers of IgG antibodies, both of which gradually diminished with the disappearance of the parasitemia. Analysis of the parasite's rRNA gene (rDNA) sequence and immunodominant antigens revealed the similarity between donor and patient isolates. The rodent isolate also had an rDNA sequence that was identical to that of the human isolates but that differed slightly from that of the human isolates by Western blot analysis. We conclude that the index case patient acquired infection by transfusion from a donor who became infected in Japan, that parasitemia in an asymptomatic carrier can persist for more than a year, and that A. speciosus serves as a reservoir of an agent of human babesiosis in Japan.
PMCID: PMC88108  PMID: 11376054
8.  Transfusion-Acquired, Autochthonous Human Babesiosis in Japan: Isolation of Babesia microti-Like Parasites with hu-RBC-SCID Mice 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(12):4511-4516.
We have isolated piroplasms from a patient who developed the first case of human babesiosis in Japan by using NOD/shi-scid mice whose circulating erythrocytes (RBCs) had been replaced with human RBCs (hu-RBC-SCID mice). Following inoculation of the patient's blood specimen into hu-RBC-SCID mice, parasites proliferated within the human RBCs in the mice, resulting in a high level of parasitemia. Parasite DNA was prepared from blood samples of the patient and the mice, and the nuclear small-subunit rRNA gene (rDNA) was amplified and sequenced. Both DNA samples gave rise to identical sequences which showed the highest degree of homology (99.2%) with the Babesia microti rDNA. Because the patient had received a blood transfusion before the onset of babesiosis, we investigated the eight donors who were involved. Their archived blood samples were analyzed for specific antibody and parasite DNA; only a single donor was found to be positive by both tests, and the parasite rDNA sequence from the donor coincided with that derived from the patient. The donor's serum exhibited a high antibody titer against the isolate from the patient, whereas it exhibited only a weak cross-reaction against B. microti strains isolated in the United States. We conclude that the first Japanese babesiosis case occurred due to a blood transfusion and that the etiological agent is an indigenous Japanese parasite which may be a geographical variant of B. microti. Our results also demonstrated the usefulness of hu-RBC-SCID mice for isolation of parasites from humans and for maintenance of the parasite infectivity for human RBCs.
PMCID: PMC87629  PMID: 11101588

Results 1-8 (8)