Date Available


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Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Daniel K. Howe


Sarcocystis neurona is an apicomplexan parasite that is a major cause of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). During intracellular development of S. neurona, many genes are temporally regulated. To better understand gene regulation, it is important to identify and characterize regulatory elements controlling gene expression in S. neurona. To perform this study, it was essential to establish transfection system for this parasite. Hence, the 5 flanking region of the SnSAG1 gene was isolated from a genomic library and used to construct expression plasmids. In transient assays, the reporter molecules -galactosidase (-gal) and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) were expressed by electroporated S. neurona, thereby confirming the feasibility of performing molecular genetic experiments in this organism. Stable transformation of S. neurona was achieved using a mutant dihydrofolate reductase thymidylate synthase (DHFR-TS) gene of T. gondii that confers resistance to pyrimethamine. This selection system was used to create transgenic S. neurona that stably express -gal and YFP. These transgenic clones were shown to be useful for analyzing growth rate of parasites in-vitro and for assessing drug sensitivities. To uncover possible sequence elements involved in promoter activity, the 5 flanking regions of five S. neurona genes were subjected to comparative analysis. This revealed the presence of a 7-base conserved motif GCGTCTC. Using a dual luciferase assay system, the SnSAG1 promoter was subjected to functional analysis. The motif GAGACGC located between -136 and -129 upstream of the transcription start site was found to be essential for SnSAG1 expression. This motif functions in an orientation dependent manner and was shown to play a role in binding nuclear proteins of S. neurona.



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