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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Mar 5;98(3-4):313-22.

Adhesion of outer membrane proteins containing tandem repeats of Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae) to tick cells.

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


Infection of cells by tick-borne rickettsiae appears to be mediated by outer membrane proteins that allow pathogens to adhere to host cells. Major surface protein (MSP) 1a of Anaplasma marginale, the type species for the genus Anaplasma, was shown previously to be an adhesin for tick cells. The A. marginale MSP1a has a variable number of tandem 28 or 29 amino acid repeats located in the amino terminal region of the protein that contains an adhesion domain that is necessary and sufficient for infection of tick cells. The MSP1a studies demonstrated the importance of combining structural and functional characteristics for identification of adhesive proteins. In the present study other outer membrane proteins containing tandem repeats were selected from organisms of the family Anaplasmataceae and studied for their adhesive properties to tick cells. The adhesive properties and protein characteristics were then analyzed in order to provide a predictor of the adhesion function of proteins identified from genome sequences. Proteins selected included the A. marginale MSP1a, A. phagocytophilum 100 and 130 kDa, Ehrlichia chaffeensis 120 kDa, E. canis 140 kDa and E. ruminantium "mucin", which were all cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli and then tested as adhesins for cultured IDE8 cells. Of the proteins studied, the A. marginale MSP1a and the E. ruminantium "mucin" were found to be adhesins for tick cells. Although all of these recombinant outer membrane proteins were glycosylated, the A. marginale MSP1a and E. ruminantium "mucin" adhesins shared a common feature of having a high Ser/Thr content in the tandem repeats. The results reported herein provide new information on the role of E. ruminantium "mucin" as an adhesin for tick cells and also suggest a role of glycans in adhesin molecules.

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