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Emergence of a Novel <i>Ehrlichia minasensis</i> Strain, Harboring the Major Immunogenic Glycoprotein trp36 with Unique Tandem Repeat and C-Terminal Region Sequences, in Haemaphysalis hystricis Ticks Removed from Free-Ranging Sheep in Hainan Province, China

Li, Junjiao, Liu, Xinxin, Mu, Jiaqi, Yu, Xibing, Fei, Yidong, Chang, Jin, Bi, Yuhai, Zhou, Yulong, Ding, Zhuang, Yin, Renfu
Microorganisms 2019 v.7 no.9
Cervidae, DNA, Ehrlichia canis, Haemaphysalis, amino acid sequences, cattle, dogs, genes, glycoproteins, monitoring, phylogeny, polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, sequence analysis, sheep, tandem repeat sequences, ticks, Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Pakistan
Ehrlichia minasensis, a recently described Ehrlichia species that is the most closely related to, but clearly distinct from, Ehrlichia canis, has been circulating in not only bovines, cervids, and dogs but also several tick species from Canada, Brazil, France, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Israel. However, there are no reports of E. minasensis in China. The purpose of this study was to explore whether E. minasensis is present naturally in ticks in China. Through PCR targeting of the genus-conserved dsb gene, E. minasensis DNA was detected in Haemaphysalis hystricis ticks removed from free-ranging sheep in Hainan Province, South China in 2017. The partial sequence of the dsb, 16S rRNA, and groEL genes demonstrated that the Hainan strain shared 99% identity with the dsb gene of E. minasensis strain UFMG-EV (GenBank: JX629808), with the 16S rRNA of E. minasensis isolate E-2650 (MH500005) and with the groEL gene of E. minasensis strain UFMG-EV (JX629806), respectively. Moreover, sequence analysis of the major immunogenic tandem repeat protein (trp36) revealed that the Hainan strain harbored a unique tandem repeat sequence (APEAAPVSAPEAAPVSAPVS) and a C-terminal region that differed from those of other known E. minasensis strains. Additionally, phylogenetic analysis based on the entire amino acid sequence of trp36 revealed that the Hainan strain was closely related to a recently described E. minasensis strain from Brazil, of which the sister clade contained different strains of E. canis. The discovery of this novel Hainan strain in H. hystricis ticks represents the first known natural presence of E. minasensis in South China, highlighting the need for its constant surveillance.