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Infect Genet Evol. 2006 Mar;6(2):113-22. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Differential evolution of repetitive sequences in Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis.

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Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, 200 Westborough Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.


Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis are two morphologically identical species of Apicomplexan protozoa infecting humans. Although the genomes of these species are 97% identical, their host range is strikingly different. C. parvum infects humans and animals and is primarily a zoonotic infection, whereas C. hominis is typically not detected in animals. The extent of genetic polymorphism in both species has been surveyed locally, but not on a larger geographical scale. Herein, a collection of unrelated C. parvum and C. hominis isolates was genotyped using multiple, randomly distributed micro- and minisatellites. In average, minisatellites, consisting of tandemly repeated sequence motifs of 6-24 basepair, were more polymorphic than microsatellites. When the average number of micro- and minisatellite alleles per locus was used as a measure of heterogeneity, no difference between C. parvum and C. hominis was found. However, the frequency distribution of alleles in both species was significantly different and in 6 of the 14 loci the size of the C. parvum and C. hominis repeats did not overlap. Assuming that C. parvum and C. hominis evolved from a common ancestor, these observations suggest a differential evolution of repeat length at these loci.

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