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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Mar 5;98(3-4):261-72.

Differential expression of the msp1alpha gene of Anaplasma marginale occurs in bovine erythrocytes and tick cells.

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


Major surface proteins (MSP) 1a and 1b of the tick-borne pathogen Anaplasma marginale (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae) are conserved on A. marginale derived from bovine erythrocytes and tick cells. MSP1a and MSP1b form the MSP1 complex and are adhesins involved in infection of host cells. While both MSP1a and MSP1b are adhesins for bovine erythrocytes, only MSP1a is an adhesin for cultured and native tick cells. These studies were initiated because antibody responses to MSP1a and MSP1b differed in cattle immunized with killed A. marginale derived from bovine erythrocytes or cultured tick cells. A strong antibody response to MSP1a was observed in cattle immunized with erythrocyte-derived A. marginale, whereas cattle immunized with tick cell culture-derived A. marginale produced antibodies preferentially to MSP1b. The molecular basis of this differential antibody response was then studied using Western blot, confocal microscopy and reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR. Whereas expression of MSP1b by A. marginale derived from both bovine and tick host cells was similar at the protein and RNA levels, expression of MSP1a by A. marginale in these cells differed. Low levels of MSP1a were observed in cultured tick cells and tick salivary glands, but high expression of MSP1a occurred on A. marginale derived from bovine erythrocytes. The analysis of the expression of the msp1alpha gene by RT-PCR suggests that the differential expression of MSP1a is regulated at the transcriptional level and may influence the infectivity of A. marginale for host cells. Variation in the expression of MSP1a may also contribute to phenotypic and antigenic changes in the pathogen.

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