Molecular characterization and immune protection of an AN1-like zinc finger protein of Eimeria tenella

  • Huanzhi Zhao
  • Qiping Zhao
  • Shunhai Zhu
  • Bing Huang
  • Ling Lv
  • Guiling Liu
  • Zhihang Li
  • Lu Wang
  • Hui Dong
  • Hongyu HanEmail author
Protozoology - Original Paper


Coccidiosis is caused by multiple species of the apicomplexan protozoa Eimeria. Among them, Eimeria tenella is frequently considered to be the most pathogenic. Zinc finger proteins (ZnFPs) are a type of protein containing zinc finger domains. In the present study, a putative Eimeria tenella AN1-like ZnFP (E. tenella AN1-like zinc finger domain-containing protein, putative partial mRNA, EtAN1-ZnFP) was cloned and characterized, and its immune protective effects were evaluated. The 798-bp ORF sequence of EtAN1-ZnFP that encoded a protein of approximately 27.0 kDa was obtained. The recombinant EtAN1-ZnFP protein (rEtAN1-ZnFP) was expressed in Escherichia coli. Western blot analysis showed that the recombinant protein was recognized by the anti-GST monoclonal antibody and anti-sporozoite protein rabbit serum. qPCR analysis revealed that EtAN1-ZnFP was highly expressed in unsporulated oocysts and sporozoites. Immunostaining with an anti-rEtAN1-ZnFP antibody indicated that EtAN1-ZnFP was uniformly distributed in the cytoplasm of sporozoites, except for the refractive body; furthermore, this protein was evenly distributed in the cytoplasm of immature schizonts but seldom distributed in mature schizonts. The results of the in vitro invasion inhibition assay indicated that the antibodies against rEtAN1-ZnFP efficiently reduced the ability of E. tenella sporozoites to invade host cells. Animal challenge experiments demonstrated that the chickens immunized with rEtAN1-ZnFP protein significantly decreased mean lesion scores and fecal oocyst output compared with challenged control group. The results suggest that EtAN1-ZnFP can induce partial immune protection against infection with E. tenella and could be an effective candidate for the development of new vaccines.


Eimeria tenella AN1-Like zinc finger protein Characterization Vaccine Chicken coccidiosis 



We would like to thank all organizations which funded this work and all the teachers who cooperated in technical assistance.

Funding information

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31572266) and National Sharing Service Platform for Parasite Resource (No. TDRC-22) and Shanghai Minhang District talent development special funds.

Compliance with ethical standards

The animal experiments, which involved animal immune protection experiments, were performed in accordance with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Permit Number:SHVRI-SZ-20180106-3), and were conducted in strict follow the recommendations outlined in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huanzhi Zhao
    • 1
  • Qiping Zhao
    • 1
  • Shunhai Zhu
    • 1
  • Bing Huang
    • 1
  • Ling Lv
    • 1
  • Guiling Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhihang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lu Wang
    • 1
  • Hui Dong
    • 1
  • Hongyu Han
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Animal Parasitology of Ministry of AgricultureShanghai Veterinary Research Institute, CAASShanghaiChina
  2. 2.College of Life and Environment SciencesShanghai Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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