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Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 18;6:35284. doi: 10.1038/srep35284.

Genome-wide diversity and gene expression profiling of Babesia microti isolates identify polymorphic genes that mediate host-pathogen interactions.

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Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore MD 21201 USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore MD 21201 USA.
Institut de Biologie Computationnelle, IBC, Université de Montpellier, 860 rue St Priest, Bat 5 - CC05019, 34095 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France.
Institut de Recherche en Cancérologie de Montpellier, IRCM - INSERM U896 &Université de Montpellier &ICM, Institut régional du Cancer Montpellier, Campus Val d'Aurelle, 34298 Montpellier, Cedex 5 France.
Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Yale School of Medicine, 15 York St., New Haven, Connecticut, CT 06520 USA.
Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, 60 College St., New Haven, Connecticut, CT 06520 USA.
Institut de Genomique Fonctionnelle, IGF - CNRS UMR 5203, 141 rue de la cardonille, 34094 Montpellier, Cedex 05, France.
Antigen Discovery Inc., Irvine, CA, 92618 USA.
Université de Montpellier, IES, UMR 5214, 860 rue de St Priest, Bt5, 34095 Montpellier, France.
CIRAD, UMR 17, Cirad-Ird, TA-A17/G, Campus International de Baillarguet, 34398 Montpellier, France.


Babesia microti, a tick-transmitted, intraerythrocytic protozoan parasite circulating mainly among small mammals, is the primary cause of human babesiosis. While most cases are transmitted by Ixodes ticks, the disease may also be transmitted through blood transfusion and perinatally. A comprehensive analysis of genome composition, genetic diversity, and gene expression profiling of seven B. microti isolates revealed that genetic variation in isolates from the Northeast United States is almost exclusively associated with genes encoding the surface proteome and secretome of the parasite. Furthermore, we found that polymorphism is restricted to a small number of genes, which are highly expressed during infection. In order to identify pathogen-encoded factors involved in host-parasite interactions, we screened a proteome array comprised of 174 B. microti proteins, including several predicted members of the parasite secretome. Using this immuno-proteomic approach we identified several novel antigens that trigger strong host immune responses during the onset of infection. The genomic and immunological data presented herein provide the first insights into the determinants of B. microti interaction with its mammalian hosts and their relevance for understanding the selective pressures acting on parasite evolution.

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