Babesia bovis, an intraerythrocytic parasite of cattle, is sequestered in the host microvasculature, a behavior associated with cerebral and vascular complications of this disease. Despite the importance of this behavior to disease etiology, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been investigated. To study the components involved in sequestration, B. bovis parasites that induce adhesion of the infected erythrocytes (IRBCs) to bovine brain capillary endothelial cells (BBEC) in vitro were isolated. Two clonal lines, CD7A+I+ and CE11A+I−, were derived from a cytoadherent, monoclonal antibody 4D9.1G1-reactive parasite population. This antibody recognizes a variant, surface-exposed epitope of the variant erythrocyte surface antigen 1 (VESA1) of B. bovis IRBCs. Both clonal lines were cytoadhesive to BBEC and two other bovine endothelial cell lines but not to COS7 cells, FBK-4 cells, C32 melanoma cells, or bovine brain pericytes. By transmission electron microscopy, IRBCs were observed to bind to BBEC via the knobby protrusions on the IRBC surface, indicating involvement of components associated with these structures. Inhibition of protein export in intact, trypsinized IRBCs ablated both erythrocyte surface reexpression of parasite protein and cytoadhesion. IRBCs allowed to recover surface antigen expression regained the ability to bind endothelial cells, demonstrating that parasite protein export is required for cytoadhesion. We propose the use of this assay as an in vitro model to study the components involved in B. bovis cytoadherence and sequestration
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