Ehrlichia canis major immunoreactive proteins of 36 and 19 kDa elicit the earliest detectable antibody responses during the acute phase of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. Genes encoding the major immunoreactive 36-kDa protein of E. canis and the corresponding ortholog of E. chaffeensis (47 kDa) were identified and the proteins characterized. The molecular masses of the strongly immunoreactive recombinant proteins were larger than predicted (26.7 and 32.9 kDa, respectively) but were consistent with those of the corresponding native proteins (36 and 47 kDa). Similar to other reported ehrlichial immunoreactive glycoproteins, carbohydrate was detected on the recombinant expressed proteins, indicating that they were glycoproteins. Both glycoproteins (gp36 and gp47) have carboxy-terminal serine/threonine-rich tandem repeat regions containing repeats that vary in number (4 to 16 repeats) and amino acid sequence among different isolates of each species. E. canis gp36 was recognized by early acute-phase antibodies (day 14), and species-specific antibody epitopes were mapped to C-terminal nonhomologous repeat units of gp36 and gp47. Periodate treatment of recombinant gp36 reduced the antibody reactivity, and nonglycosylated synthetic peptide repeat units from E. canis gp36 and E. chaffeensis gp47 were substantially less immunoreactive than corresponding recombinant peptides, demonstrating that glycans are important epitope determinants that are structurally conserved on the recombinant proteins expressed in Escherichia coli. E. canis gp36 and E. chaffeensis gp47 were differentially expressed only on the surface of dense-cored ehrlichiae and detected in the Ehrlichia-free supernatants, indicating that these proteins are released extracellularly during infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases