Wolbachia are intracellular α-proteobacteria, closely related to Rickettsia, that infect various arthropods and filarial parasites. In the present study, the cDNA encoding the aspartate aminotransferase (AspAT) of Wolbachia from the human pathogenic filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus (Ov-WolAspAT) was identified. At the amino acid level, the identity of the Ov-WolAspAT was 56% to Rickettsia prowazekii AspAT and 54% to the AspAT of the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, but the highest degree of identity was found to the putative AspAT of Wolbachia from Brugia malayi and Drosophila melanogaster (85%). All of these bacterial AspATs are members of the AspAT subclass Ib. A 35 kDa fragment of the Ov-WolAspAT was expressed in Escherichia coli, and immunolocalization using polyclonal antibodies against this antigen revealed that Ov-WolAspAT is present in a considerable proportion of the Wolbachia from O. volvulus, as well as in the endobacteria of several other filarial parasites. Western blot analysis using recombinant Ov-WolAspAT as antigen showed that IgG1 antibodies were present in 70 (51%) individuals living in areas endemic for O. volvulus, B. malayi or Wuchereria bancrofti and no IgG4 or IgE antibodies were found. Among 40 sera of persons from Uganda and Liberia who were putatively not infected with human filarial parasites, 11 (28%) individuals presented IgG1 antibodies, while none of the 33 sera from healthy Europeans and none of the 14 sera from patients with proven Rickettsia or Brucella infections reacted with the antigen. These results also show that an intracellular protein of Wolbachia endobacteria (WolAspAT) acts as antigen in human filariasis.
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - May 1 2003|