Molecular comparison of the dense granule proteins GRA6 and GRA7 of Neospora hughesi and Neospora caninum. Academic Article uri icon


  • Neospora hughesi is a recently described apicomplexan parasite that has been associated with several cases of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. The biology of this new parasite is just beginning to be defined. Towards this understanding, we report important differences between the nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the dense granule proteins GRA6 and GRA7 of N. hughesi and Neospora caninum. This information can be used to differentiate the two species and contribute to further understanding of the prevalence and biology of N. hughesi. The newly defined proteins of N. hughesi are referred to as NhGRA6 and NhGRA7 in keeping with the protocol for naming homologous proteins of the Apicomplexa. Genes of the two dense granule proteins of N. hughesi (isolate Nh-A1) and four different isolates of N. caninum were isolated via PCR and their DNA sequences were determined. Computer analysis indicated that the two gene sequences were identical among all four N. caninum isolates. However, the gene for NhGRA6 was found to be 96 nucleotides longer at the 3' end than that of NcGRA6, resulting in a protein product that is 32 amino acids larger than NcGRA6. Two tandem repeat sequences were identified at the 3' end of the NhGRA6 gene. These repeat sequences contributed to the lengthening of the carboxy terminus of NhGRA6 in comparison with that of NcGRA6. The larger size of NhGRA6 was further confirmed by Western blot analysis in which NcGRA6 monospecific antibodies recognised a protein of approximately 42 kDa in N. hughesi whole tachyzoite preparation but a protein of 37 kDa in N. caninum whole tachyzoite preparation. Analysis of GRA7 gene sequences indicated a 6 and 14.8% difference at nucleotide and amino acid sequence level, respectively, between NcGRA7 and NhGRA7. Despite the same number of residues in the deduced amino acid sequences of all the GRA7 proteins, Western blot analysis indicated a difference in the migration pattern of NhGRA7 in comparison with NcGRA7. Results of our study indicate that diagnostic tests based on differences in dense granule sequences and antigenicity may have potential to differentiate between N. hughesi and N. caninum. Such diagnostic tests would be valuable tools to aid in our understanding of the epidemiology of these parasites. Additionally, dense granule proteins are immunogenic and they may have potential as use in recombinant vaccines against neosporosis.

published proceedings

  • Int J Parasitol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Walsh, C. P., Vemulapalli, R., Sriranganathan, N., Zajac, A. M., Jenkins, M. C., & Lindsay, D. S.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Walsh, CP||Vemulapalli, R||Sriranganathan, N||Zajac, AM||Jenkins, MC||Lindsay, DS

publication date

  • January 2001