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Gene. 2005 Nov 21;361:127-32. Epub 2005 Oct 3.

Distinctly different msp2 pseudogene repertoires in Anaplasma marginale strains that are capable of superinfection.

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Program in Vector-borne Diseases, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7040, USA.


Lifelong persistent infection of cattle is a hallmark of the tick transmitted pathogen Anaplasma marginale. Antigenic variation of Major Surface Protein 2 (MSP2) plays an important role in evasion of the host immune response to allow persistence. Antigenic variation of MSP2 is achieved by gene conversion of pseudogenes into the single operon linked expression site and the diversity of variants is defined by the pseudogene repertoire. Once an animal is persistently infected with one strain of A. marginale, infection with a second strain (superinfection) is rare. However, we recently detected animals superinfected with different strains of A. marginale and hypothesized that the msp2 pseudogene repertoire would be distinct in these superinfecting strains, consistent with encoding different sets of surface variants. Five strains of A. marginale were selected in order to identify and compare msp2 pseudogene content; these included strains with similar and different msp1alpha genotypes, and genotypes that were representative of the strains that were found in the superinfected animals. Southern blot analysis of strains associated with superinfection revealed distinctly different msp2 banding patterns, in contrast to a pattern suggesting identical pseudogene content among related strains not associated with superinfection. Indeed, targeted sequence analysis of msp2 pseudogenes showed identical pseudogene repertoires in genotypically closely related strains and varying amounts of dissimilarity in the pseudogene repertoire in strains with distinctly different msp1alpha genotypes, but totally different msp2 pseudogene repertoires between the strains that were found in superinfected animals. This finding supports the hypothesis that the occurrence of superinfection reflects the differences in the msp2 repertoire and corresponding diversity of variants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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