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Int J Parasitol. 2002 Dec 19;32(14):1727-37.

Functional genomics of gam56: characterisation of the role of a 56 kilodalton sexual stage antigen in oocyst wall formation in Eimeria maxima.

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  • 1Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Diseases, University of Technology Sydney, Westbourne Street, Gore Hill, NSW 2065, Australia


Gam56 (M(r) 56,000) is an antigen found in the sexual (macrogametocyte) stage of the intestinal parasite Eimeria maxima that is implicated in protective immunity. The gene (gam56) encoding this protein was cloned and sequenced. It is a single-copy, intronless gene, that localises to a 1,754 bp transcript, and is first detected at 120 h p.i. The gene predicts two distinct protein domains; a tyrosine-serine rich region, composed of amino acids implicated in oocyst wall formation in Eimeria spp., and a proline-methionine rich region often detected in extensins, protein components of plant cell walls. The tyrosine-serine rich region predicts a secondary structure commonly seen in the structural protein fibroin, a component of the cocoon of the caterpillar Bombyx mori. The inference that gam56 is a structural component of the oocyst wall was confirmed when a specific antibody to gam56 recognised the wall forming bodies in macrogametocytes, and the walls of oocysts and sporocysts. Together, these data identify a developmentally regulated, sexual stage gene in E. maxima that shares primary and secondary structure features in common with intrinsic structural proteins in other parasites such as Schistosoma mansoni and Fasciola hepatica, and other organisms across different phyla, including the caterpillar Bombyx mori. In addition, these findings provide evidence for the molecular mechanisms underlying oocyst wall formation in Eimeria and the role of gametocyte antigens in this process.

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