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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Jun 29;247(3):636-43.

Molecular characterization of a 28 kDa surface antigen gene family of the tribe Ehrlichiae.

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Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610, USA.


Antisera against different Ehrlichiae recognize an immunodominant, cross-reacting approximately 28 kDa surface antigen defined as the MAP1 in Cowdria ruminantium. These antigens are considered valuable in developing serodiagnostic tests and recombinant vaccines for Ehrlichiae infections. To evaluate the relationship in three closely related Ehrlichiae, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia canis, and C. ruminantium, the structure of the 28 kDa antigen genes was analyzed. We describe the cloning and characterization of DNA encoding genes homologous to MAP1 from E. chaffeensis and E. canis. The cloned segment of E. chaffeensis contains one expressed and four transcriptionally silent tandemly arranged, nonidentical genes; the E. canis locus consists of two nonidentical genes. Comparative analysis of these genes revealed the presence of four conserved regions separated by three highly variable regions. B-cell epitope analysis identified three major cross-reacting epitopes that map to the variable regions. Location of the epitopes at the variable regions and the presence of multigene family with only one expressed copy suggest a mechanism of immune evasion in these Ehrlichiae.

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