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Chymotrypsin and neuraminidase treatment inhibits host cell invasion by Babesia divergens (Phylum Apicomplexa)

  • A. ZINTL (a1), C. WESTBROOK (a1) (a2), H. E. SKERRETT (a1), J. S. GRAY (a2) and G. MULCAHY (a1)...


The process of host cell invasion by Babesia divergens is poorly understood and improved knowledge of the mechanism involved could lead to development of measures effective in disease prevention. To investigate parasite ligands on the erythrocyte surface, B. divergens cultures in bovine erythrocytes were transferred into enzyme-treated bovine, human, ovine and equine erythrocytes. Parasite invasion of bovine erythrocytes was not affected by trypsin treatment while treatment with alpha-chymotrypsin led to a reduction in parasite growth of 20–40%. Treatment of bovine and non-bovine erythrocytes with neuraminidase decreased their susceptibility to invasion by up to 97% implicating sialic acid as an important erythrocyte ligand for babesia, but the addition of either bovine or human N-acetylneuraminyl-lactose to B. divergens cultures in bovine erythrocytes had no inhibitory effect.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author: Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, University College Dublin, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 6687988 2596. Fax: +353 1 660 8656. E-mail:
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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