Babesia bovis is a tick-borne intraerythocytic protozoan responsible for acute disease in cattle which can be controlled by vaccination with attenuated B. bovis strains. Emerging B. bovis transfection technologies may increase the usefulness of these live vaccines. One use of transfected B. bovis parasites may be as a vaccine delivery platform. Previous transfection methods for B. bovis were limited by single expression sites and intracellular expression of transfected antigens. This study describes a novel transfection system in which two exogenous genes are expressed: one for selection and the other for a selected antigen designed to be delivered to the surface of the parasites. The strategy for duplicating the number of transfected genes was based on the use of the putative bidirectional promoter of the B. bovis 1.4 Kb ef-1α intergenic region. The ability of this region to regulate two independent expression sites was demonstrated using a luciferase assay on transiently transfected B. bovis parasites and then incorporated into a stable transfection plasmid to control independent expression of the selectable marker GFP-BSD and another gene of interest. A chimeric gene was synthetized using sequences from the protective B-cell epitopes of Rhipicephalus microplus tick antigen Bm86 along with sequences from the surface exposed B. bovis major surface antigen-1. This chimeric gene was then cloned into the additional expression site of the transfection plasmid. Transfection of the B. bovis Mo7 strain with this plasmid resulted in stable insertion into the ef-1α locus and simultaneous expression of both exogenous genes. Expression of the Bm86 epitopes on the surface of transfected merozoites was demonstrated using immunofluorescence analyses. The ability to independently express multiple genes by the inclusion of a bidirectional promoter and the achievement of surface expression of foreign epitopes advances the potential of transfected B. bovis as a future vaccine delivery platform.
Tick-borne pathogens that cause persistent infection are of major concern to the livestock industry because of transmission risk from persistently infected animals and the potential economic losses they pose. The recent reemergence of Theileria equi in the United States prompted a widespread national survey resulting in identification of limited distribution of equine piroplasmosis (EP) in the U.S. horse population. This program identified Babesia caballi-seropositive horses using rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1)–competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA), despite B. caballi being considered nonendemic on the U.S. mainland. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the suitability of RAP-1–cELISA as a single serological test to determine the infection status of B. caballi in U.S. horses. Immunoblotting indicated that sera from U.S. horses reacted with B. caballi lysate and purified B. caballi RAP-1 protein. Antibody reactivity to B. caballi lysate was exclusively directed against a single ∼50-kDa band corresponding to a native B. caballi RAP-1 protein. In contrast, sera from experimentally and naturally infected horses from regions where B. caballi is endemic bound multiple proteins ranging from 30 to 50 kDa. Dilutions of sera from U.S. horses positive by cELISA revealed low levels of antibodies, while sera from horses experimentally infected with B. caballi and from areas where B. caballi is endemic had comparatively high antibody levels. Finally, blood transfer from seropositive U.S. horses into naive horses demonstrated no evidence of B. caballi transmission, confirming that antibody reactivity in cELISA-positive U.S. horses was not consistent with infection. Therefore, we conclude that a combination of cELISA and immunoblotting is required for the accurate serodiagnosis of B. caballi.
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.
Members of the CCp protein family have been previously described to be expressed on gametocytes of apicomplexan Plasmodium parasites. Knocking out Plasmodium CCp genes blocks the development of the parasite in the mosquito vector, making the CCp proteins potential targets for the development of a transmission-blocking vaccine. Apicomplexans Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina are the causative agents of bovine babesiosis, and apicomplexan Theileria equi causes equine piroplasmosis. Bovine babesiosis and equine piroplasmosis are the most economically important parasite diseases that affect worldwide cattle and equine industries, respectively. The recent sequencing of the B. bovis and T. equi genomes has provided the opportunity to identify novel genes involved in parasite biology. Here we characterize three members of the CCp family, named CCp1, CCp2 and CCp3, in B. bigemina, B. bovis and T. equi. Using B. bigemina as an in vitro model, expression of all three CCp genes and proteins was demonstrated in temperature-induced sexual stages. Transcripts for all three CCp genes were found in vivo in blood stages of T. equi, and transcripts for CCp3 were detected in vivo in blood stages of B. bovis. However, no protein expression was detected in T. equi blood stages or B. bovis blood stages or B. bovis tick stages. Collectively, the data demonstrated a differential pattern of expression of three orthologous genes of the multidomain adhesion CCp family by B. bigemina, B. bovis and T. equi. The novel CCp members represent potential targets for innovative approaches to control bovine babesiosis and equine piroplasmosis.
Small ruminant lentiviruses include members that infect sheep (ovine lentivirus [OvLV]; also known as ovine progressive pneumonia virus/maedi-visna virus) and goats (caprine arthritis encephalitis virus [CAEV]). Breed differences in seroprevalence and proviral concentration of OvLV had suggested a strong genetic component in susceptibility to infection by OvLV in sheep. A genetic marker test for susceptibility to OvLV has been developed recently based on the TMEM154 gene with validation data from over 2,800 sheep representing nine cohorts. While no single genotype has been shown to have complete resistance to OvLV, consistent association in thousands of sheep from multiple breeds and management conditions highlight a new strategy for intervention by selective breeding. This genetic marker-assisted selection (MAS) has the potential to be a useful addition to existing viral control measures. Further, the discovery of multiple additional genomic regions associated with susceptibility to or control of OvLV suggests that additional genetic marker tests may be developed to extend the reach of MAS in the future. This review will cover the strengths and limitations of existing data from host genetics as an intervention and outline additional questions for future genetic research in sheep, goats, small ruminant lentiviruses, and their host-pathogen interactions.
small ruminantlentivirus; susceptibility; marker-assisted selection; sheep; goats; TMEM154
Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, and Bibersteinia trehalosi have been identified in the lungs of pneumonic bighorn sheep (BHS; Ovis canadensis). Of these pathogens, M. haemolytica has been shown to consistently cause fatal pneumonia in BHS under experimental conditions. However, M. haemolytica has been isolated by culture less frequently than the other bacteria. We hypothesized that the growth of M. haemolytica is inhibited by other bacteria in the lungs of BHS. The objective of this study was to determine whether P. multocida inhibits the growth of M. haemolytica. Although in monoculture both bacteria exhibited similar growth characteristics, in coculture with P. multocida there was a clear inhibition of growth of M. haemolytica. The inhibition was detected at mid-log phase and continued through the stationary phase. When cultured in the same medium, the growth of M. haemolytica was inhibited when both bacteria were separated by a membrane that allowed contact (pore size, 8.0 μm) but not when they were separated by a membrane that limited contact (pore size, 0.4 μm). Lytic bacteriophages or bactericidal compounds could not be detected in the culture supernatant fluid from monocultures of P. multocida or from P. multocida-M. haemolytica cocultures. These results indicate that P. multocida inhibits the growth of M. haemolytica by a contact- or proximity-dependent mechanism. If the inhibition of growth of M. haemolytica by P. multocida occurs in vivo as well, it could explain the inconsistent isolation of M. haemolytica from the lungs of pneumonic BHS.
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
Like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), ovine lentivirus (OvLV) is macrophage-tropic and causes lifelong infection. OvLV infects one quarter of U.S. sheep and induces pneumonia and body condition wasting. There is no vaccine to prevent OvLV infection and no cost-effective treatment for infected animals. However, breed differences in prevalence and proviral concentration have indicated a genetic basis for susceptibility to OvLV. A recent study identified TMEM154 variants in OvLV susceptibility. The objective here was to identify additional loci associated with odds and/or control of OvLV infection.
This genome-wide association study (GWAS) included 964 sheep from Rambouillet, Polypay, and Columbia breeds with serological status and proviral concentration phenotypes. Analytic models accounted for breed and age, as well as genotype. This approach identified TMEM154 (nominal P = 9.2×10−7; empirical P = 0.13), provided 12 additional genomic regions associated with odds of infection, and provided 13 regions associated with control of infection (all nominal P<1×10−5). Rapid decline of linkage disequilibrium with distance suggested many regions included few genes each. Genes in regions associated with odds of infection included DPPA2/DPPA4 (empirical P = 0.006), and SYTL3 (P = 0.051). Genes in regions associated with control of infection included a zinc finger cluster (ZNF192, ZSCAN16, ZNF389, and ZNF165; P = 0.001), C19orf42/TMEM38A (P = 0.047), and DLGAP1 (P = 0.092).
These associations provide targets for mutation discovery in sheep susceptibility to OvLV. Aside from TMEM154, these genes have not been associated previously with lentiviral infection in any species, to our knowledge. Further, data from other species suggest functional hypotheses for future testing of these genes in OvLV and other lentiviral infections. Specifically, SYTL3 binds and may regulate RAB27A, which is required for enveloped virus assembly of human cytomegalovirus. Zinc finger transcription factors have been associated with positive selection for repression of retroviral replication. DLGAP1 binds and may regulate DLG1, a known regulator of HIV infectivity.
Arthropod-borne apicomplexan pathogens that cause asymptomatic persistent infections present a significant challenge due to their life-long transmission potential. Although anti-microbials have been used to ameliorate acute disease in animals and humans, chemotherapeutic efficacy for apicomplexan pathogen elimination from a persistently infected host and removal of transmission risk is largely unconfirmed. The recent re-emergence of the apicomplexan Theileria equi in U.S. horses prompted testing whether imidocarb dipropionate was able to eliminate T. equi from naturally infected horses and remove transmission risk. Following imidocarb treatment, levels of T. equi declined from a mean of 104.9 organisms/ml of blood to undetectable by nested PCR in 24 of 25 naturally infected horses. Further, blood transfer from treated horses that became nested PCR negative failed to transmit to naïve splenectomized horses. Although these results were consistent with elimination of infection in 24 of 25 horses, T. equi-specific antibodies persisted in the majority of imidocarb treated horses. Imidocarb treatment was unsuccessful in one horse which remained infected as measured by nested PCR and retained the ability to infect a naïve recipient via intravenous blood transfer. However, a second round of treatment eliminated T. equi infection. These results support the utility of imidocarb chemotherapy for assistance in the control and eradication of this tick-borne pathogen. Successful imidocarb dipropionate treatment of persistently infected horses provides a tool to aid the global equine industry by removing transmission risk associated with infection and facilitating international movement of equids between endemic and non-endemic regions.
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.
Bighorn sheep (BHS) are more susceptible than domestic sheep (DS) to Mannheimia haemolytica pneumonia. Although both species carry M. haemolytica as a commensal bacterium in the nasopharynx, DS carry mostly leukotoxin (Lkt)-positive strains while BHS carry Lkt-negative strains. Consequently, antibodies to surface antigens and Lkt are present at much higher titers in DS than in BHS. The objective of this study was to determine whether repeated immunization of BHS with multivalent Mannheimia-Bibersteinia vaccine will protect them upon M. haemolytica challenge. Four BHS were vaccinated with a culture supernatant vaccine prepared from M. haemolytica serotypes A1 and A2 and Bibersteinia trehalosi serotype T10 on days 0, 21, 35, 49, and 77. Four other BHS were used as nonvaccinated controls. On the day of challenge, 12 days after the last immunization, the mean serum titers of Lkt-neutralizing antibodies and antibodies to surface antigens against M. haemolytica were 1:160 and 1:4,000, respectively. Following intranasal challenge with M. haemolytica A2 (1 × 105 CFU), all four control BHS died within 48 h. Necropsy revealed acute fibrinonecrotic pneumonia characteristic of M. haemolytica infection. None of the vaccinated BHS died during the 8 weeks postchallenge observation period. Radiography at 3 weeks postchallenge revealed no lung lesions in two vaccinated BHS and mild lesions in the other two, which resolved by 8 weeks postchallenge. These results indicate that if BHS can be induced to develop high titers of Lkt-neutralizing antibodies and antibodies to surface antigens, they are likely to survive M. haemolytica challenge which is likely to reduce the BHS population decline due to pneumonia.
Mannheimia haemolytica consistently causes fatal bronchopneumonia in bighorn sheep (BHS; Ovis canadensis) under natural and experimental conditions. Leukotoxin is the primary virulence factor of this organism. BHS are more susceptible to developing fatal pneumonia than the related species Ovis aries (domestic sheep [DS]). In BHS herds affected by pneumonia, lamb recruitment is severely impaired for years subsequent to an outbreak. We hypothesized that a lack of maternally derived antibodies (Abs) against M. haemolytica provides an immunologic basis for enhanced susceptibility of BH lambs to population-limiting pneumonia. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the titers of Abs directed against M. haemolytica in the sera of BH and domestic lambs at birth through 12 weeks of age. Results revealed that BH lambs had approximately 18-fold lower titers of Ab against surface antigens of M. haemolytica and approximately 20-fold lower titers of leukotoxin-neutralizing Abs than domestic lambs. The titers of leukotoxin-neutralizing Abs in the serum and colostrum samples of BH ewes were approximately 157- and 50-fold lower than those for domestic ewes, respectively. Comparatively, the higher titers of parainfluenza 3 virus-neutralizing Abs in the BH lambs ruled out the possibility that these BHS had an impaired ability to passively transfer Abs to their lambs. These results suggest that lower levels of leukotoxin-neutralizing Abs in the sera of BH ewes, and resultant low Ab titers in their lambs, may be a critical factor in the poor lamb recruitment in herds affected by pneumonia.
We report an outbreak of equine piroplasmosis in southern Texas, USA, in 2009. Infection prevalence reached 100% in some areas (292 infected horses). Amblyomma cajennense was the predominant tick and experimentally transmitted Theileria equi to an uninfected horse. We suggest that transmission by this tick species played a role in this outbreak.
equine piroplasmosis; tick-borne diseases; vector-borne infections; Theileria equi; Amblyomma cajennense; equids; equine diseases; horses; parasites; ticks; Texas; expedited; dispatch
Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus is an economically important tick of cattle involved in the transmission of Babesia bovis, the etiological agent of bovine babesiosis. Commercial anti-tick vaccines based on the R. microplus Bm86 glycoprotein have shown some effect in controlling tick infestation; however their efficacy as a stand-alone solution for tick control has been questioned. Understanding the role of the Bm86 gene product in tick biology is critical to identifying additional methods to utilize Bm86 to reduce R. microplus infestation and babesia transmission. Additionally, the role played by Bm86 in R. microplus fitness during B. bovis infection is unknown.
Here we describe in two independent experiments that RNA interference-mediated silencing of Bm86 decreased the fitness of R. microplus females fed on cattle during acute B. bovis infection. Notably, Bm86 silencing decreased the number and survival of engorged females, and decreased the weight of egg masses. However, gene silencing had no significant effect on the efficiency of transovarial transmission of B. bovis from surviving female ticks to their larval offspring. The results also show that Bm86 is expressed, in addition to gut cells, in larvae, nymphs, adult males and ovaries of partially engorged adult R. microplus females, and its expression was significantly down-regulated in ovaries of ticks fed on B. bovis-infected cattle.
The R. microplus Bm86 gene plays a critical role during tick feeding and after repletion during blood digestion in ticks fed on cattle during acute B. bovis infection. Therefore, the data indirectly support the rationale for using Bm86-based vaccines, perhaps in combination with acaricides, to control tick infestation particularly in B. bovis endemic areas.
The conversion of normal cellular prion protein to disease-associated prion protein (PrPSc) is a fundamental component of prion disease pathogenesis. The molecular mechanisms contributing to prion conversion and the impact of PrPSc accumulation on cellular biology are not fully understood. To further define the molecular changes associated with PrPSc accumulation in cultured cells, the transcriptional profile of PrPSc-accumulating primary ovine microglia was compared to the profile of PrPSc-lacking microglia using the Affymetrix Bovine Genome Array. The experimental design included three biological replicates, each with three technical replicates, and samples that were collected at the point of near maximal PrPSc accumulation levels as measured by ELISA. The array analysis revealed only 19 upregulated genes and 30 downregulated genes in PrPSc-accumulating microglia. The results support the hypothesis that chronic PrPSc accumulation in cultured microglia results in a limited transcriptional response.
ovine; microglia; prion; scrapie; microarray
This report describes the genome sequences of Mannheimia haemolytica serotype A2 isolated from pneumonic lungs of two different ruminant species, one from Ovis aries, designated ovine (O), and the other from Bos taurus, designated bovine (B).
A caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV)/maedi-visna virus (MVV) indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (iELISA) was validated with samples from U.S. sheep and by the use of radioimmunoprecipitation as the standard for comparison. The sensitivity and the specificity were 86.0% (±5.8%) and 95.9% (±2.9%), respectively. The iELISA format and phylogenetic differences based on the MVV gag sequence contribute to the reduced sensitivity.
Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica is the only pathogen that consistently causes severe bronchopneumonia and rapid death of bighorn sheep (BHS; Ovis canadensis) under experimental conditions. Paradoxically, Bibersteinia (Pasteurella) trehalosi and Pasteurella multocida have been isolated from BHS pneumonic lungs much more frequently than M. haemolytica. These observations suggest that there may be an interaction between these bacteria, and we hypothesized that B. trehalosi overgrows or otherwise inhibits the growth of M. haemolytica. Growth curves (monoculture) demonstrated that B. trehalosi has a shorter doubling time (∼10 min versus ∼27 min) and consistently achieves 3-log higher cell density (CFU/ml) compared to M. haemolytica. During coculture M. haemolytica growth was inhibited when B. trehalosi entered stationary phase (6 h) resulting in a final cell density for M. haemolytica that was 6 to 9 logs lower than expected with growth in the absence of B. trehalosi. Coculture supernatant failed to inhibit M. haemolytica growth on agar or in broth, indicating no obvious involvement of lytic phages, bacteriocins, or quorum-sensing systems. This observation was confirmed by limited growth inhibition of M. haemolytica when both pathogens were cultured in the same media but separated by a filter (0.4-μm pore size) that limited contact between the two bacterial populations. There was significant growth inhibition of M. haemolytica when the populations were separated by membranes with a pore size of 8 μm that allowed free contact. These observations demonstrate that B. trehalosi can both outgrow and inhibit M. haemolytica growth with the latter related to a proximity- or contact-dependent mechanism.
Anaplasma marginale subsp. centrale is a naturally attenuated subtype that has been used as a vaccine for a century. We sequenced the genome of this organism and compared it to those of virulent senso stricto A. marginale strains. The comparison markedly narrows the number of outer membrane protein candidates for development of a safer inactivated vaccine and provides insight into the diversity among strains of senso lato A. marginale.
Babesia are emerging health threats to humans and animals in the United States. A collaborative effort of multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, otherwise known as the One Health concept, was taken during a research workshop held in April 2009 to identify gaps in scientific knowledge regarding babesioses. The impetus for this analysis was the increased risk for outbreaks of bovine babesiosis, also known as Texas cattle fever, associated with the re-infestation of the U.S. by cattle fever ticks.
The involvement of wildlife in the ecology of cattle fever ticks jeopardizes the ability of state and federal agencies to keep the national herd free of Texas cattle fever. Similarly, there has been a progressive increase in the number of cases of human babesiosis over the past 25 years due to an increase in the white-tailed deer population. Human babesiosis due to cattle-associated Babesia divergens and Babesia divergens-like organisms have begun to appear in residents of the United States. Research needs for human and bovine babesioses were identified and are presented herein.
The translation of this research is expected to provide veterinary and public health systems with the tools to mitigate the impact of bovine and human babesioses. However, economic, political, and social commitments are urgently required, including increased national funding for animal and human Babesia research, to prevent the re-establishment of cattle fever ticks and the increasing problem of human babesiosis in the United States.
Antimicrobial treatment of persistent infection to eliminate transmission risk represents a specific challenge requiring compelling evidence of complete pathogen clearance. The limited repertoire of antimicrobial agents targeted at protozoal parasites magnifies this challenge. Using Babesia caballi as both a model and a specific apicomplexan pathogen for which evidence of the elimination of transmission risk is required for international animal movement, we tested whether a high-dose regimen of imidocarb dipropionate cleared infection from persistently infected asymptomatic horses and/or eliminated transmission risk. Clearance with elimination of transmission risk was supported by the following four specific lines of evidence: (i) inability to detect parasites by quantitative PCR and nested PCR amplification, (ii) conversion from seropositive to seronegative status, (iii) inability to transmit infection by direct inoculation of blood into susceptible recipient horses, and (iv) inability to transmit infection by ticks acquisition fed on the treated horses and subsequently transmission fed on susceptible horses. In contrast, untreated horses remained infected and capable of transmitting B. caballi using the same criteria. These findings establish that imidocarb dipropionate treatment clears B. caballi infection with confirmation of lack of transmission risk either by direct blood transfer or a high tick burden. Importantly, the treated horses revert to seronegative status according to the international standard for serologic testing and would be permitted to move between countries where the pathogen is endemic and countries that are free of the pathogen.
A multiplex real-time PCR was developed using a single pair of primers and fluorescent probes specific for five malignant catarrhal fever viruses and an internal positive control. The assay was able to simultaneously detect and differentiate the viruses in clinical samples with high sensitivity (97.2%) and specificity (100%).
The cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus is involved in the transmission of the protozoan Babesia bovis, the etiological agent of bovine babesiosis. Interactions between ticks and protozoa are poorly understood and the investigation of tick genes that affect tick fitness and protozoan infection can set the stage for dissecting the molecular interactions between the two species.
In this study, RNA interference was used to silence R. microplus genes that had been previously shown to be up-regulated in response to B. bovis infection. The silencing of a putative immunophilin gene (Imnp) in female ticks fed on a calf acutely infected with B. bovis decreased the hatching rate and survival of larval progeny. Interestingly, Imnp was up-regulated significantly in ovaries of R. microplus in response to B. bovis infection and its silencing in female ticks significantly increased the infection rate of the protozoan in larval progeny. The results also showed that the silencing of a putative Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor (Spi) gene and a putative lipocalin (Lpc) gene decreased the fitness of R. microplus females, but had no significant effect on the infection rate of B. bovis in larval progeny.
The silencing of the Imnp, Spi or Lpc genes decreased the fitness of R. microplus females fed on a calf during acute B. bovis infection. The Imnp gene data suggest that this putative immunophilin gene is involved in the defense system of R. microplus against B. bovis and may play a role in controlling the protozoan infection in tick ovaries and larval progeny.