Characterization of the apical membrane antigen-1 in Italian strains of Babesia bigemina.
Babesia bigemina is a parasite endemic in different parts of the world, including Europe and the Americas. One of the few genes characterized in this species codifies for the Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA-1), a trans-membrane antigen recently identified. In this research, we characterized the ama-1 gene from three Italian B. bigemina strains, two B. bigemina strains obtained from Ragusa, Sicily (ITA1 and ITA3) and a third one obtained from Benevento, Campania (ITA2). Italian sequences were compared with those of the Australian strain obtained from the Sanger Institute web site and to strains from different parts of the world. The results obtained confirmed that this newly described ama-1 gene is highly conserved among Italian and foreign strains which has implications for vaccine development.