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Int J Parasitol. 2001 Feb;31(2):145-53.

Differential adhesion of major surface proteins 1a and 1b of the ehrlichial cattle pathogen Anaplasma marginale to bovine erythrocytes and tick cells.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


Anaplasma marginale is a tick-borne ehrlichial pathogen of cattle for which six major surface proteins (MSPs) have been described. The MSP1 complex, a heterodimer composed of MSP1a and MSP1b, was shown to induce a protective immune response in cattle and both proteins have been identified as putative adhesins for bovine erythrocytes. In this study the role of MSP1a and MSP1b as adhesins for bovine erythrocytes and tick cells was defined. msp1alpha and msp1beta1 genes from the Oklahoma isolate of A. marginale were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli K-12 under the control of endogenous and tac promoters for both low and high level protein expression. Expression of the recombinant polypeptides was confirmed and localised on the surface of transformed E. coli. The adhesion properties of MSP1a and MSP1b were determined by allowing recombinant E. coli expressing these surface polypetides to react with bovine erythrocytes, Dermacentor variabilis gut cells and cultured tick cells derived from embryonic Ixodes scapularis. Adhesion of the recombinant E. coli to the three cell types was determined using recovery adhesion and microtiter haemagglutination assays, and by light and electron microscopy. MSP1a was shown by all methods tested to be an adhesin for bovine erythrocytes and both native and cultured tick cells. In contrast, recombinant E. coli expressing MSP1b adhered only to bovine erythrocytes and not to tick cells. When low expression vectors were used, single E. coli expressing MSP1a was seen adhered to individual tick cells while reaction of tick cells with the E. coli/MSP1a/high expression vector resulted in adhesion of multiple bacteria per cell. With electron microscopy, fusion of E. coli cell membranes expressing MSP1a or MSP1b with erythrocyte membranes was observed, as well as fusion of tick cell membranes with E. coli membranes expressing MSP1a. These studies demonstrated differential adhesion for MSP1a and MSP1b for which MSP1a is an A. marginale adhesin for both bovine erythrocytes and tick cells while MSP1b is an adhesin only for bovine erythrocytes. The role of the MSP1 complex, therefore, appears to vary among vertebrate and invertebrate hosts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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