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Differential expression of calcium-dependent protein kinase 4, tubulin tyrosine ligase, and methyltransferase by xanthurenic acid-induced Babesia bovis sexual stages

Hala E. Hussein, Wendell C. Johnson, Naomi S. Taus, Janaina Capelli-Peixoto, Carlos E. Suarez, Michelle R. Mousel, Massaro W. Ueti
Parasites & vectors 2021 v.14 no.1 pp. 395
Babesia bovis, acid-amino-acid ligases, babesiosis, calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase, developmental stages, disease vectors, gene expression, gene expression regulation, in vitro studies, methyltransferases, midgut, parasitism, ticks, xanthurenic acid
BACKGROUND: Babesia bovis is one of the most significant tick-transmitted pathogens of cattle worldwide. Babesia bovis parasites have a complex lifecycle, including development within the mammalian host and tick vector. Each life stage has developmental forms that differ in morphology and metabolism. Differentiation between these forms is highly regulated in response to changes in the parasite’s environment. Understanding the mechanisms by which Babesia parasites respond to environmental changes and the transmission cycle through the biological vector is critically important for developing bovine babesiosis control strategies. RESULTS: In this study, we induced B. bovis sexual stages in vitro using xanthurenic acid and documented changes in morphology and gene expression. In vitro induced B. bovis sexual stages displayed distinctive protrusive structures and surface ruffles. We also demonstrated the upregulation of B. bovis calcium-dependent protein kinase 4 (cdpk4), tubulin-tyrosine ligase (ttl), and methyltransferase (mt) genes by in vitro induced sexual stages and during parasite development within tick midguts. CONCLUSIONS: Similar to other apicomplexan parasites, it is likely that B. bovis upregulated genes play a vital role in sexual reproduction and parasite transmission. Herein, we document the upregulation of cdpk4, ttl, and mt genes by both B. bovis in vitro induced sexual stages and parasites developing in the tick vector. Understanding the parasite's biology and identifying target genes essential for sexual reproduction will enable the production of non-transmissible live vaccines to control bovine babesiosis.