Discovery of T cell epitopes of the intracellular parasite Babesia bovis using immunoproteomic and immunoinformatic strategies

Project summary

Bovine babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by parasites Babesia bovis and B. bigemina. The disease affects cattle industry in tropical and subtropical regions of the world where bovine ticks are present. In bovines, Babesia bovis causes the most acute disease, characterized by anemia, neurological and renal damage and high mortality rates in adult animals.

Current control methods for babesiosis include vaccination with live attenuated strains of both parasites. Although these live vaccines are highly effective, they have some undesirable characteristics such as short shelf-life and the possibility of transmitting other diseases. For these reasons, there is an urgent need to produce new effective vaccines capable of inducing a strong protective immune response without these drawbacks.

Our proposal represents an important step towards addressing this need. We will identify some key protein fragments called T-cell epitopes of B. bovis that are specifically involved in the bovine immune response against the parasite. We will achieve this goal using cutting-edge mass spectrometry technologies combined with advanced immunoinformatics machine-learning to identify T-cell epitopes that remained unknown using previous techniques. This strategy will allow obtaining a set of novel vaccine candidates that could be included in new generation vaccines against bovine babesiosis.