Parasitic nematodes of the group Cyathostominae are an important cause of disease in horses. This group consists of approximately 50 species, all of which have similar life cycles that involve encystment of larval stages in the large intestinal wall. Encysted larvae can persist for months to years and, occasionally, large numbers can accumulate and emerge synchronously to cause severe pathology, resulting in diarrhoea, weight loss, colic and/or oedema. This syndrome, known as larval cyathostominosis, can be fatal in up to 50% of cases, despite treatment. There is no diagnostic method that enables detection of the encysted larval burden. Previously, we identified two native antigen complexes that showed utility as diagnostic markers for the estimation of cyathostomin encysted larval burdens. This paper reports the identification of a likely protein component of one of these antigen complexes. The protein, designated cyathostomin gut-associated larval antigen-1 (Cy-GALA-1), was isolated by immunoscreening a cyathostomin mixed-species, larval complementary DNA library using sera from experimentally-infected horses. The resultant recombinant protein, rCy-GALA-1, was expressed in Escherichia coli and shown to be a target of serum IgG(T) responses in experimentally- and naturally-infected horse populations. Transcription of Cy-gala-1 was restricted to cyathostomin encysted larvae and the presence of native protein was limited to developing larval stages. Importantly, rCy-GALA-1 exhibited no reactivity to serum from horses mono-specifically infected with other helminth species, nor did antisera, raised to the recombinant protein, bind to adult stage extracts of heterologous species. Immunohistochemical experiments located Cy-GALA-1 to the nematode gut. A region of the gene encoding orthologous GALA sequences was isolated from 10 separate cyathostomin species, indicating the ubiquity of the protein in this nematode group.
2009 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.