Investigation of SnSPR1, a novel and abundant surface protein of Sarcocystis neurona merozoites

Deqing Zhang, Daniel K. Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


An expressed sequence tag (EST) sequencing project has produced over 15,000 partial cDNA sequences from the equine pathogen Sarcocystis neurona. While many of the sequences are clear homologues of previously characterized genes, a significant number of the S. neurona ESTs do not exhibit similarity to anything in the extensive sequence databases that have been generated. In an effort to characterize parasite proteins that are novel to S. neurona, a seemingly unique gene was selected for further investigation based on its abundant representation in the collection of ESTs and the predicted presence of a signal peptide and glycolipid anchor addition on the encoded protein. The gene was expressed in E. coli, and monospecific polyclonal antiserum against the recombinant protein was produced by immunization of a rabbit. Characterization of the native protein in S. neurona merozoites and schizonts revealed that it is a low molecular weight surface protein that is expressed throughout intracellular development of the parasite. The protein was designated Surface Protein 1 (SPR1) to reflect its display on the outer surface of merozoites and to distinguish it from the ubiquitous SAG/SRS surface antigens of the heteroxenous Coccidia. Interestingly, infection assays in the presence of the polyclonal antiserum suggested that SnSPR1 plays some role in attachment and/or invasion of host cells by S. neurona merozoites. The work described herein represents a general template for selecting and characterizing the various unidentified gene sequences that are plentiful in the EST databases for S. neurona and other apicomplexans. Furthermore, this study illustrates the value of investigating these novel sequences since it can offer new candidates for diagnostic or vaccine development while also providing greater insight into the biology of these parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-219
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 15 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants and an endowment from the Amerman Family Foundation and a grant from Fort Dodge Animal Health. We gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance of Meaghan Mroz-Barrett. Published as Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Article No. 07-14-121.


  • Apicomplexa
  • Coccidia
  • Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis
  • Expressed sequence tag
  • Invasion
  • Sarcocystis
  • Surface protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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