• Comparative analysis of gene expression between Babesia bovis blood stages and kinetes allowed by improved genome annotation

      Ueti, Massaro W; Johnson, Wendell C; Kappmeyer, Lowell S; Herndon, David R; Mousel, Michelle R; Reif, Kathryn E; Taus, Naomi S; Ifeonu, Olukemi O; Silva, Joana C; Suarez, Carlos E; et al. (Elsevier Ltd., 2020-10-15)
      Throughout their life cycle, Babesia parasites alternate between a mammalian host, where they cause babesiosis, and the tick vector. Transition between hosts results in distinct environmental signals that influence patterns of gene expression, consistent with the morphological and functional changes operating in the parasites during their life stages. In addition, comparing differential patterns of gene expression among mammalian and tick parasite stages can provide clues for developing improved methods of control. Hereby, we upgraded the genome assembly of Babesia bovis, a bovine hemoparasite, closing a 139 kbp gap, and used RNA-Seq datasets derived from mammalian blood and tick kinete stages to update the genome annotation. Of the originally annotated genes, 1,254 required structural changes, and 326 new genes were identified, leading to a different predicted proteome compared to the original annotation. Next, the RNA-Seq data was used to identify B. bovis genes that were differentially expressed in the vertebrate and arthropod hosts. In blood stages, 28% of the genes were upregulated up to 300 fold, whereas 26% of the genes in kinetes, a tick stage, were upregulated up to >19,000 fold. We thus discovered differentially expressed genes that may play key biological roles and serve as suitable targets for the development of vaccines to control bovine babesiosis.