Author(s): Kocan KM, de la Fuente J, Blouin EF, Coetzee JF, Ewing SA
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Abstract The intracellular pathogen Anaplasma marginale (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae), described by Sir Arnold Theiler in 1910, is endemic worldwide in tropical and subtropical areas. Infection of cattle with A. marginale causes bovine anaplasmosis, a mild to severe hemolytic disease that results in considerable economic loss to both dairy and beef industries. Transmission of A. marginale to cattle occurs biologically by ticks and mechanically by biting flies and by blood-contaminated fomites. Both male ticks and cattle hosts become persistently infected with A. marginale and serve as reservoirs of infection. While erythrocytes are the major site of infection in cattle, A. marginale undergoes a complex developmental cycle in ticks that begins by infection of gut cells, and transmission to susceptible hosts occurs from salivary glands during feeding. Major surface proteins (MSPs) play a crucial role in the interaction of A. marginale with host cells, and include adhesion proteins and MSPs from multigene families that undergo antigenic change and selection in cattle, thus contributing to maintenance of persistent infections. Many geographic strains of A. marginale have been identified worldwide, which vary in genotype, antigenic composition, morphology and infectivity for ticks. Isolates of A. marginale may be maintained by independent transmission events and a mechanism of infection/exclusion in cattle and ticks. The increasing numbers of A. marginale genotypes identified in some geographic regions most likely resulted from intensive cattle movement. However, concurrent A. marginale strain infections in cattle was reported, but these strains were more distantly related. Phylogenetic studies of selected geographic isolates of A. marginale, using msp4 and msp1alpha, provided information about the biogeography and evolution of A. marginale, and msp1alpha genotypes appear to have evolved under positive selection pressure. Live and killed vaccines have been used for control of anaplasmosis and both types of vaccines have advantages and disadvantages. Vaccines have effectively prevented clinical anaplasmosis in cattle but have failed to block A. marginale infection. Vaccines are needed that can prevent clinical disease and, simultaneously, prevent infection in cattle and ticks, thus eliminating these hosts as reservoirs of infection. Advances in genomics, proteomics, immunology and biochemical and molecular technologies during the last decade have been applied to research on A. marginale and related organisms, and the recent development of a cell culture system for A. marginale has provided a format for studying the pathogen/tick interface. Recent advancements and new research methodologies should provide additional opportunities for development of new strategies for control and prevention of bovine anaplasmosis.
This article was published in Vet Parasitol
and referenced in Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology