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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1992 Oct;55(1-2):75-83.

Surface epitope localization and gene structure of a Babesia bovis 44-kilodalton variable merozoite surface antigen.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-704.


Variation of Babesia bovis merozoite surface antigens occurs among geographic strains of the parasite. In this and a concurrent report, we investigate this variation at the gene and protein level. Using a monoclonal antibody (mAb 23/70.174), B. bovis gene sequences were identified that encoded a surface epitope of a 44-kDa merozoite surface antigen (MSA-2). This epitope is variably expressed among geographic isolates of B. bovis. Here, we describe the MSA-2 protein gene sequence, localize this surface epitope to a repeated amino acid sequence, and investigate the genomic organization of the gene in B. bovis strains from Mexico and Australia. The predicted protein sequence had hydrophobic regions at its amino and carboxy termini consistent with a signal peptide and a membrane anchor via glycosylphosphatidyl inositol, respectively. The surface epitope recognized by mAb 23/70.174 was localized within a 24-amino acid sequence which is repeated twice in tandem. Six different EcoRI bands hybridized to the MSA-2 gene sequence with varying intensities in genomic Southern blots of the homologous strain. Two of these appear to be alleles of the MSA-2 gene. Whereas 5' and 3' sequences of the MSA-2 gene sequence were detected in an Australia strain of B. bovis, internal gene sequences encoding the surface epitope were not. The 3' sequences of the MSA-2 gene also had significant sequence similarity with the MSA-1 gene of the Mexico strain B. bovis and a gene from the previously described BabR locus. These data indicate that the MSA-2 protein gene belongs to the BabR locus which encodes variable merozoite surface antigens.

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