Transcription of the Rickettsia Felis OmpA gene in naturally infected fleas

Jorge E. Zavala-Castro, Melissa Small, Colette Keng, Donald H. Bouyer, Jorge Zavala-Velázquez, David H. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Rickettsia felis is maintained transovarially in Ctenocephalides felis fleas in a widespread geographic distribution and is transmitted to humans and animals, including opossums. This rickettsia is phylogenetically a member of the spotted fever group, most closely related to Rickettsia akari and R. australis. An unusual feature of this rickettsia is that the gene for the outer membrane protein A (OmpA) is interrupted by stop codons. To determine if this putatively dying gene is expressed, mRNA was extracted from laboratory-maintained, R. felis-infected cat fleas. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification of three segments of the ompA gene indicated that mRNA of ompA is actively transcribed in fleas. The cDNA sequences expressed represented mRNA of the first 1860-basepair segment of ompA, which includes domains I and II, part of domain III, the region from site 1836 to site 2180, despite the presence of several stop codons, and the open reading frame from site 2788 to site 3837. The detected sequences showed several differences in the amino acid composition when compared with the previously reported sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-666
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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