Novel equi merozoite antigen (ema-1) gene heterogeneity in a geographically isolated Theileria equi population in Croatia

Coultous, R. , Gotić, J., McCann, M., Sutton, D., Beck, R. and Shiels, B. (2022) Novel equi merozoite antigen (ema-1) gene heterogeneity in a geographically isolated Theileria equi population in Croatia. Parasites and Vectors, 15(1), 401. (doi: 10.1186/s13071-022-05484-4) (PMID:36316753) (PMCID:PMC9623909)

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Background: The apicomplexan haemoparasite Theileria equi, a causative agent of equine piroplasmosis, is an established pathogen of significant welfare and economic concern within the Croatian equine population. A previous large surveillance study of T. equi has identified two distinct parasite populations, one in the north and one in the south, geographically separated by the Dinaric Alps, which traverse the country. This study aimed to further investigate the genetic diversity within these two populations, focussing on allelic variability of the equi merozoite antigen gene, ema-1. Methods: Following nested PCR of DNA isolates, the generated ema-1 amplicons were subsequently sequenced and compared by phylogenetic analysis to available sequences representing previously described ema-1 genotypes (groups A–C). Results: Isolates from the southern T. equi population clustered with the existing ema-1 groups A and B. Strikingly, isolates from the northern population clustered into two novel ema-1 genotypes, named groups D and E. Conclusions: This detection of hitherto unreported genotypes suggests that historic geographical isolation has led to a degree of divergent evolution in this northern T. equi population. Additionally, current global regulatory testing of equine piroplasmosis relies heavily on EMA-1 based immunodiagnostics, and the discovery of unique ema-1 genotypes may question the efficacy of current diagnostics in international equine movement, with ramifications for the global equine community.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Shiels, Professor Brian and Coultous, Dr Robert
Authors: Coultous, R., Gotić, J., McCann, M., Sutton, D., Beck, R., and Shiels, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Parasites and Vectors
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1756-3305
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2022
First Published:First published in Parasites and Vectors 15(1):401
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
304516Coultous HBLB PostdocBrian ShielsHorserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB)VET/EPDF/2019-1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine