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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMMUNOLOGIC AND PHARMACOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS OF VECTOR-BORNE BABESIOSIS Title: Bovipain-2, the falcipain-2 ortholog, is expressed in intraerythrocytic stages of the tick-transmitted hemoparasite Babesia bovis

Authors
item Mesplet, M -
item Echaide, I -
item Dominguez, M -
item Mosqueda, J -
item Suarez, Carlos
item Schnittger, L -
item Florin-Christensen, M -

Submitted to: Parasites & Vectors
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 23, 2010
Publication Date: November 23, 2010
Citation: Mesplet, M., Echaide, I., Dominguez, M., Mosqueda, J.J., Suarez, C.E., Schnittger, L., Florin-Christensen, M. 2010. Bovipain-2, the falcipain-2 ortholog, is expressed in intraerythrocytic stages of the tick-transmitted hemoparasite Babesia bovis. Parasites & Vectors. 10.1186/1756-3305-3-113.

Interpretive Summary: Cysteine proteases are enzymes produced by Babesia bovis parasites that have been shown to be highly relevant for their survival in different host environments. In the case of Babesia bovis, a tick-transmitted hemoparasite of cattle, inhibitors of these enzymes were shown to hamper intraerythrocytic replication of the parasite, underscoring their importance for survival. This study describes the characterization of bovipain-2 and demonstrate its in vitro and in vivo expression in virulent and attenuated strains. Given the involvement of apicomplexan cysteine proteases in essential parasite functions, bovipain-2 constitutes a new vaccine candidate and potential drug target for bovine babesiosis.

Technical Abstract: Cysteine proteases have been shown to be highly relevant for Apicomplexan parasites. In the case of Babesia bovis, a tick-transmitted hemoparasite of cattle, inhibitors of these enzymes were shown to hamper intraerythrocytic replication of the parasite, underscoring their importance for survival. Data mining of the predicted proteome of B. bovis allowed the identification of four cystein proteases, all pertaining to clan CA, subfamily C1A. One of them, an orthologue of Plasmodium falciparum falcipain-2, here named bovipain-2, was further characterized. Bovipain-2 is encoded in B. bovis chromosome 4 by an ORF of 1.3 kb, has a predicted molecular weight of 42 kDa, and is mostly hydrophilic. It has orthologs in several other apicomplexans, and its predicted amino acid sequence shows a high degree of conservation among several American B. bovis isolates. Synteny studies demonstrated that the bovipain-2 gene has expanded in the genomes of two related piroplasmids, Theileria parva and T. annulata, into families of 6 and 7 clustered genes respectively, which appear to have originated from gene duplication. The bovipain-2 gene is transcribed in in vitro cultured intra-erythrocyte forms of a virulent and an attenuated B. bovis strain from Argentina, and has no introns, as shown by RT-PCR followed by sequencing. Antibodies against a recombinant form of bovipain-2 recognized two parasite protein bands of 34 and 26 kDa, which coincide with the predicted sizes of the pro-peptidase and mature peptidase, respectively. Immunofluorescence studies showed an intracellular localization of bovipain-2 in the middle-rear region of in vitro cultured merozoites, as well as diffused in the cytoplasm of infected erythrocytes. Anti-bovipain-2 antibodies also reacted with B. bigemina-infected erythrocytes giving a similar pattern, which suggests cross-reactivity among these species. Antibodies in sera of two out of six B. bovis-experimentally infected bovines tested, reacted specifically with recombinant bovipain-2 in immunoblots, thus demonstrating expression and immunogenicity during bovine-infecting stages. Overall, we present the characterization of bovipain-2 and demonstrate its in vitro and in vivo expression in virulent and attenuated strains. Given the involvement of apicomplexan cysteine proteases in essential parasite functions, bovipain-2 constitutes a new vaccine candidate and potential drug target for bovine babesiosis.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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