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Identification and characterization of the RouenBd1987 Babesia divergens Rhopty-Associated Protein 1.

PloS one (2014-09-17)
Marilis Rodriguez, Andy Alhassan, Rosalynn L Ord, Jeny R Cursino-Santos, Manpreet Singh, Jeremy Gray, Cheryl A Lobo
ABSTRACT

Human babesiosis is caused by one of several babesial species transmitted by ixodid ticks that have distinct geographical distributions based on the presence of competent animal hosts. The pathology of babesiosis, like malaria, is a consequence of the parasitaemia which develops through the cyclical replication of Babesia parasites in a patient's red blood cells, though symptoms typically are nonspecific. We have identified the gene encoding Rhoptry-Associated Protein -1 (RAP-1) from a human isolate of B. divergens, Rouen1987 and characterized its protein product at the molecular and cellular level. Consistent with other Babesia RAP-1 homologues, BdRAP-1 is expressed as a 46 kDa protein in the parasite rhoptries, suggesting a possible role in red cell invasion. Native BdRAP-1 binds to an unidentified red cell receptor(s) that appears to be non-sialylated and non-proteinacious in nature, but we do not find significant reduction in growth with anti-rRAP1 antibodies in vitro, highlighting the possibility the B. divergens is able to use alternative pathways for invasion, or there is an alternative, complementary, role for BdRAP-1 during the invasion process. As it is the parasite's ability to recognize and then invade host cells which is central to clinical disease, characterising and understanding the role of Babesia-derived proteins involved in these steps are of great interest for the development of an effective prophylaxis.

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