Send to

Choose Destination
Pathogens. 2019 Jul 4;8(3). pii: E97. doi: 10.3390/pathogens8030097.

Interplay between Attenuation- and Virulence-Factors of Babesia bovis and Their Contribution to the Establishment of Persistent Infections in Cattle.

Author information

Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Department of Microbiology, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia.
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4878, Australia.
Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7040, USA.
Animal Disease Research Unit., Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Pullman, WA 99164-6630, USA.


Bovine babesiosis is an acute and persistent tick-borne global disease caused mainly by the intraerythrocytic apicomplexan parasites Babesia bovis and B. bigemina. B. bovis infected erythrocytes sequester in blood capillaries of the host (cytoadhesion), causing malaria-like neurological signs. Cytoadhesion and antigenic variation in B. bovis are linked to the expression of members of the Variant Erythrocyte Surface Antigen (VESA) gene family. Animals that survive acute B. bovis infection and those vaccinated with attenuated strains remain persistently infected, suggesting that B. bovis parasites use immune escape mechanisms. However, attenuated B. bovis parasites do not cause neurological signs in vaccinated animals, indicating that virulence or attenuation factors play roles in modulating parasite virulence phenotypes. Artificial overexpression of the SBP2t11 protein, a defined attenuation factor, was associated with reduced cytoadhesion, suggesting a role for this protein as a key modulator of virulence in the parasite. Hereby, we propose a model that might be functional in the modulation of B. bovis virulence and persistence that relies on the interplay among SBP2t, VESA proteins, cytoadhesion, and the immune responses of the host. Elucidation of mechanisms used by the parasite to establish persistent infection will likely contribute to the design of new methods for the control of bovine babesiosis.


Babesia; SBP2t11; VESA; cytoadhesion; persistence; sequestration

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Loading ...
Support Center