The 23-kDa piroplasm membrane protein of Theileria orientalis (p23) is an immunogenic protein expressed during the intraerythrocytic stage of the parasite; its function, however, remains unclear. To evaluate the host factor or factors that interact with p23, we examined the binding of p23 to components of the host cell surface. Recombinant p23 protein of the Ikeda genotype failed to bind to bovine red blood cells or to peripheral blood mononuclear cells, but did bind to Madin-Darby Bovine Kidney (MDBK) cells. A glycoarray assay showed that recombinant p23 proteins from the three genotypes bound to heparin, indicating that p23 is a heparin-binding Theileria surface molecule. Further analysis of heparin-binding molecules is useful for understanding attachment and invasion of T. orientalis merozoites.
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