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Babesia divergens Apical Membrane Antigen 1 and Its Interaction with the Human Red Blood Cell

Montero, Estrella, Rodriguez, Marilis, Oksov, Yelena, Lobo, Cheryl A.
Infection and immunity 2009 v.77 no.11 pp. 4783-4793
Babesia divergens, Plasmodium, antigens, cell invasion, cell membranes, drugs, erythrocytes, host-parasite relationships, humans, merozoites, parasites, pathogenesis, proteolysis, vaccine development
Multiple parasite ligand-erythrocyte receptor interactions must occur for successful Babesia and Plasmodium invasion of the human red cell. One such parasite ligand is the apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) which is a conserved apicomplexan protein present in the micronemes and then secreted onto the surface of the merozoite. Much evidence exists for a vital role for AMA1 in host cell invasion; however, its interaction with the host erythrocyte has remained controversial. In this paper, we present a detailed characterization of a Babesia divergens homolog of AMA1 (BdAMA1), and taking advantage of the relatively high amounts of native BdAMA1 available from the parasite culture system, show that proteolytic products of native BdAMA1 bind to a trypsin- and chymotrypsin-sensitive receptor on the red blood cell. Moreover, immuno-electron microscopic images of the B. divergens merozoite captured during invasion offer additional evidence of the presence of BdAMA1 on the red cell membrane. Given the importance of AMA1 in invasion and the central role invasion plays in pathogenesis, these studies have implications both for novel drug design and for the development of new vaccine approaches aimed at interfering with AMA1 function.