Babesia bovis: researchers identify potential vaccine targets

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service-United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) and Washington State University (WSU) have identified which genes may be critically important to the survival and spread of Babesia bovis in ticks and mammals. Their findings are published in the International Journal for Parasitology.

Dr Massaro Ueti, a research veterinary medical officer at the USDA-ARS and adjunct professor in the WSU Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, led the work with WSU tick disease expert Dr. Kelly Brayton.

“In order to determine a viable target for a vaccine, we have to know which genes are critical for the parasite’s replication and survivability,” Dr. Ueti said. “Now we have an idea which genes to target to prevent the disease’s outcome in the blood and in ticks.”

The USDA-ARS and WSU research team used RNA sequencing to identify important Babesia genes. They specifically looked for genes encoding proteins that were active when the parasite was in the blood of a mammalian host or in the tick.

The study identified about 1,000 genes in the parasite more highly expressed in the mammalian host and about 900 genes that were expressed more highly when Babesia was in the tick.

Considering the gene’s activity at the time of infection, Ueti and his team predicted these genes were critical for the survivability and replication of the disease. Now that the team has identified genes that could be viable vaccine targets, the next step is to explore their functions and narrow the pool.

Article: Ueti, M. W., Johnson, W. C., Kappmeyer, L. S., Herndon, D. R., Mousel, M. R., Reif, K. E., Taus, N. S., Ifeonu, O. O., Silva, J. C., Suarez, C. E., Brayton, K. A. (2020). Comparative analysis of gene expression between Babesia bovis blood stages and kinetes allowed by improved genome annotation. International Journal for Parasitology, advance online publication, doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.08.006

[SOURCE: Washington State University]

Posted in NewsTagged