Isolation and propagation of the Ap-variant 1 strain of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in a tick cell line

Robert F. Massung, Michael L. Levin, Ulrike G. Munderloh, David J. Silverman, Meghan J. Lynch, Jariyanart K. Gaywee, Timothy J. Kurtti

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The first tissue culture isolates of the unique Anaplasma phagocytophilum strain, Ap-Variant 1, were obtained in the Ixodes scapularis tick-derived cell line ISE6. Two isolates were from goat blood samples: one from a goat infected with I. scapularis ticks from Rhode Island and a second from a goat infected by serial passage of blood from the first infected goat. Eight isolates were made directly from I. scapularis ticks collected from white-tailed deer in Minnesota and represent the first isolations of an Anaplasma species directly from ticks. Each of the 10 isolates had a 16S rRNA gene sequence identical to that previously described for Ap-Variant 1, but differences within the ank gene were found that suggest natural variation. Prevalence of Anaplasma in the Minnesota ticks was 63.9%; 23 of 36 ticks tested by PCR were positive. Six of the tick-derived isolates were obtained from a set of 18 PCR-positive ticks, for a 33.3% isolation success rate. The conservation of host tropism among the Rhode Island and Minnesota isolates of Ap-Variant 1 was examined by use of experimental infections of mice and a goat. A Minnesota tick-derived isolate (MN-61-2) was used to inoculate naïve animals, and this isolate was able to infect a goat but unable to infect each of five mice, confirming that the Minnesota isolates have the same host tropism as Ap-Variant 1 from the northeastern United States. Light and electron microscopy of the Ap-Variant 1 isolate MN-61-2 in ISE6 cells showed cytoplasmic inclusions characteristic of A. phagocytophilum with pleomorphic bacteria in membrane-bound vacuoles and both electron-dense and electron-lucent forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2138-2143
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


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