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Ovine babesiosis is one of the most important tick-borne haemoparasitic diseases of small ruminants. The ovine parasite Babesia sp. Xinjiang is widespread in China. In this study, recombinant full-length XJrRAP-1aα2 (rhoptry-associated protein 1aα2) and C-terminal XJrRAP-1aα2 CT of Babesia sp. Xinjiang were expressed and used to evaluate their diagnostic potential for Babesia sp. Xinjiang infections by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Purified XJrRAP-1aα2 was tested for reactivity with sera from animals experimentally infected with Babesia sp. Xinjiang and other haemoparasites using Western blotting and ELISA. The results showed no cross-reactivities between XJrRAP-1aα2 CT and sera from animals infected by other pathogens. High level of antibodies against RAP-1a usually lasted 10 weeks post-infection (wpi). A total of 3690 serum samples from small ruminants in 23 provinces located in 59 different regions of China were tested by ELISA. The results indicated that the average positive rate was 30·43%, and the infections were found in all of the investigated provinces. This is the first report on the expression and potential use of a recombinant XJrRAP-1aα2 CT antigen for the development of serological assays for the diagnosis of ovine babesiosis, caused by Babesia sp. Xinjiang.
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