Validation of BdCCp2 as a marker for Babesia divergens sexual stages in ticks

Claire A M Becker, Laurence Malandrin, Thibaut Larcher, Alain Chauvin, Emmanuel Bischoff, Sarah I Bonnet
Experimental Parasitology 2013, 133 (1): 51-6
Babesiosis is a tick-transmitted disease of mammalian hosts, caused by the intraerythrocytic protozoan parasites of the genus Babesia. Transmission of Babesia parasites from the vertebrate host to the tick is mediated by sexual stages, the gametocytes which are the only intraerythrocytic stages that survive and develop inside the vector. Very few data are available concerning these parasite stages and some markers are needed in order to refine our knowledge of Babesia life cycle inside the tick and to permit the monitoring of parasite transmission from vertebrate to vector. We previously identified some potential markers of the Babesia divergens gametocytes using an in silico post-genomic approach based on sequence identity between the available genomes of Plasmodium and Babesia spp. Here, one of the identified proteins, BdCCp2, was validated as a marker of sexual stages of B. divergens, in infected ticks challenged with antisera directed against recombinant BdCCp2 protein. The BdCCp2 protein was detected by Western blot in some infected ticks, as a discrete band of approximately 171 kDa, while no signal was detected in the laboratory-reared non-infected tick. BdCCp2 was also detected, by immunohistochemical analyses, in piriform or ovoid bodies, measuring 2.5-4.5 μm in diameter, in the gut of partially engorged ticks that were experimentally infected. This molecular marker can then be used in the future to characterize and analyze the biology of B. divergens gametocytes.

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