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Vet Parasitol. 2010 Feb 10;167(2-4):216-26. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2009.09.023. Epub 2009 Sep 20.

In silico predicted conserved B-cell epitopes in the merozoite surface antigen-2 family of B. bovis are neutralization sensitive.

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Institute of Pathobiology, Center of Agriculture and Veterinary Research, National Institute of Agriculture Technology, Castelar, Argentina.


The merozoite surface antigens MSA-2 of Babesia bovis constitute a family of polymorphic GPI-anchored glycoproteins located at the parasite cell surface, that contain neutralization-sensitive B-cell epitopes. These are therefore putative vaccine candidates for bovine babesiosis. It was previously shown that (i) the MSA-2 antigens of the biologically cloned Mo7 strain are encoded by four tandemly organized genes: msa-2a(1), a(2), b and c, and (ii) at least one allele of each of these genes is present in the Argentine R1A strain with a moderate degree of polymorphism. The present work was aimed at defining neutralization-sensitive B-cell epitopes in the MSA-2 family, that are conserved among different B. bovis geographical isolates. To this end, msa-2a, b and c alleles from different isolates from Argentina, USA and Mexico were amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced. Bioinformatic analysis by ClustalW alignments and B-cell epitope prediction algorithms performed on these sequences allowed the identification of several regions containing putative conserved B-cell epitopes. Four peptides representing these regions: (KDYKTMVKFCN from msa-2a(1); YYKKHIS, from msa-2b; and THDALKAVKQLIKT and ELLKLLIEA from msa-2c) were chemically synthesized, conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin and used to inoculate mice to obtain immune sera. Anti-peptide antibodies recognized B. bovis merozoite extracts in all cases in ELISA tests. In addition, these sera reacted with the surface of merozoites of an Argentine and a Mexican B. bovis strains in immunofluorescence assays, and sera against two of the selected peptides inhibited invasion of erythrocytes by in vitro cultured merozoites. Taken together, the results show that the peptide sequences selected by bioinformatic analysis represent expressed and geographically conserved B. bovis B-cell epitopes that might be strong candidates for development of subunit vaccines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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