The gene coding for Eimeria tenella protein EtMIC3 was cloned by screening a sporozoite cDNA library with two independent monoclonal antibodies raised against the oocyst stage. The deduced sequence of EtMIC3 is 988 amino acids long. The protein presents seven repeats in tandem, with four highly conserved internal repeats and three more divergent external repeats. Each repeat is characterised by a tyrosine kinase phosphorylation site, WRCY, and a reminiscent motif of the thrombospondin1 (TSP1)-type I domain, CXXXCG. The protein EtMIC3 is localised at the apex of free parasite stages. It is not detected in the early intracellular parasite stage but is synthesised in mature schizonts. Secretion of the protein is induced when sporozoites are incubated in complete medium at 41°C. Strangely enough, the two independent mAb that allow cloning of EtMIC3 interfere with parasitic growth in different ways. One is able to inhibit parasite invasion whereas the other inhibits development. Expression and localisation of the protein EtMIC3 are consistent with a protein involved in the invasion process as is expected for a microneme protein. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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