Advancements have been made in the genetic manipulation of apicomplexan parasites. Both the in vitro transient and in vivo stable transfection of Eimeria tenella have been developed successfully. Herein, we report the transient and stable transfection of Eimeria mitis.
Sporozoites of E. mitis transfected with enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) expression plasmid were inoculated into chickens via the cloacal route. The recovered fluorescent oocysts were sorted by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) and then passaged 6 generations successively in chickens. The resulting population was analyzed by genome walking and Western blot. The endogenous development of the transgenic E. mitis was observed and its reproduction potential was tested. The stable transfection of E. mitis was developed. Genome walking confirmed the random integration of plasmid DNA into the genome; while Western blot analysis demonstrated the expression of foreign proteins. Constitutive expression of EYFP was observed in all stages of merogony, gametogony and sporogony. The peak of the transgenic oocyst output was delayed by 24 h and the total oocyst reproduction was reduced by 7-fold when compared to the parental strain.
Stable transfection of E. mitis was successfully developed. The expression of foreign antigens in the transgenic parasites will facilitate the development of transgenic E. mitis as a vaccine vector.