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Parasite. 2017;24:50. doi: 10.1051/parasite/2017049. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Identification and analysis of Eimeria nieschulzi gametocyte genes reveal splicing events of gam genes and conserved motifs in the wall-forming proteins within the genus Eimeria (Coccidia, Apicomplexa).

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Institute for Zoology, Technische Universität Dresden, Helmholtzstraße 10, 01062 Dresden, Germany.


The genus Eimeria (Apicomplexa, Coccidia) provides a wide range of different species with different hosts to study common and variable features within the genus and its species. A common characteristic of all known Eimeria species is the oocyst, the infectious stage where its life cycle starts and ends. In our study, we utilized Eimeria nieschulzi as a model organism. This rat-specific parasite has complex oocyst morphology and can be transfected and even cultivated in vitro up to the oocyst stage. We wanted to elucidate how the known oocyst wall-forming proteins are preserved in this rodent Eimeria species compared to other Eimeria. In newly obtained genomics data, we were able to identify different gametocyte genes that are orthologous to already known gam genes involved in the oocyst wall formation of avian Eimeria species. These genes appeared putatively as single exon genes, but cDNA analysis showed alternative splicing events in the transcripts. The analysis of the translated sequence revealed different conserved motifs but also dissimilar regions in GAM proteins, as well as polymorphic regions. The occurrence of an underrepresented gam56 gene version suggests the existence of a second distinct E. nieschulzi genotype within the E. nieschulzi Landers isolate that we maintain.

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