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1.  Plasmodium falciparum Infection Induces Expression of a Mosquito Salivary Protein (Agaphelin) That Targets Neutrophil Function and Inhibits Thrombosis without Impairing Hemostasis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004338.
Background
Invasion of mosquito salivary glands (SGs) by Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites is an essential step in the malaria life cycle. How infection modulates gene expression, and affects hematophagy remains unclear.
Principal Findings
Using Affimetrix chip microarray, we found that at least 43 genes are differentially expressed in the glands of Plasmodium falciparum-infected Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. Among the upregulated genes, one codes for Agaphelin, a 58-amino acid protein containing a single Kazal domain with a Leu in the P1 position. Agaphelin displays high homology to orthologs present in Aedes sp and Culex sp salivary glands, indicating an evolutionarily expanded family. Kinetics and surface plasmon resonance experiments determined that chemically synthesized Agaphelin behaves as a slow and tight inhibitor of neutrophil elastase (KD∼10 nM), but does not affect other enzymes, nor promotes vasodilation, or exhibit antimicrobial activity. TAXIscan chamber assay revealed that Agaphelin inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis toward fMLP, affecting several parameter associated with cell migration. In addition, Agaphelin reduces paw edema formation and accumulation of tissue myeloperoxidase triggered by injection of carrageenan in mice. Agaphelin also blocks elastase/cathepsin-mediated platelet aggregation, abrogates elastase-mediated cleavage of tissue factor pathway inhibitor, and attenuates neutrophil-induced coagulation. Notably, Agaphelin inhibits neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) formation and prevents FeCl3-induced arterial thrombosis, without impairing hemostasis.
Conclusions
Blockade of neutrophil elastase emerges as a novel antihemostatic mechanism in hematophagy; it also supports the notion that neutrophils and the innate immune response are targets for antithrombotic therapy. In addition, Agaphelin is the first antihemostatic whose expression is induced by Plasmodium sp infection. These results suggest that an important interplay takes place in parasite-vector-host interactions.
Author Summary
Malaria is transmitted by Plasmodium falciparum-infected Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. Salivary gland contributes to the development of the parasite by creating a favorable environment for the infection and facilitating blood feeding and reproduction of the vector. However, the molecular mechanism by which the vector salivary gland modulates parasite/host interactions is not understood. We discovered that infection of the mosquito salivary gland upregulates several genes; among them, one codes for a protease inhibitor named Agaphelin. Notably, Agaphelin was found to exhibit multiple antihemostatic functions by targeting elastase. As a result, it inhibits platelet function which is required for blood to clot, and it prevents cleavage of TFPI, an anticoagulant that has recently been found to play a crucial role in thrombus formation in vivo. Agaphelin also attenuates neutrophils chemotaxis and the release of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps. These results provide evidence that neutrophils serve as a link between coagulation and the innate immune response. Agaphelin also exhibits anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects in vivo. Furthermore, Agaphelin did not promote bleeding, suggesting that targeting neutrophil exhibits potential therapeutic value. Altogether, these results highlight that the interplay between parasite, vector and host is a dynamic process that contributes and sustains the interface among Plasmodium, Anopheles and humans.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004338
PMCID: PMC4161438  PMID: 25211214
2.  An insight into the sialome of the oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis (Rots) 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:102.
Background
The salivary glands of hematophagous animals contain a complex cocktail that interferes with the host hemostasis and inflammation pathways, thus increasing feeding success. Fleas represent a relatively recent group of insects that evolved hematophagy independently of other insect orders.
Results
Analysis of the salivary transcriptome of the flea Xenopsylla cheopis, the vector of human plague, indicates that gene duplication events have led to a large expansion of a family of acidic phosphatases that are probably inactive, and to the expansion of the FS family of peptides that are unique to fleas. Several other unique polypeptides were also uncovered. Additionally, an apyrase-coding transcript of the CD39 family appears as the candidate for the salivary nucleotide hydrolysing activity in X.cheopis, the first time this family of proteins is found in any arthropod salivary transcriptome.
Conclusion
Analysis of the salivary transcriptome of the flea X. cheopis revealed the unique pathways taken in the evolution of the salivary cocktail of fleas. Gene duplication events appear as an important driving force in the creation of salivary cocktails of blood feeding arthropods, as was observed with ticks and mosquitoes. Only five other flea salivary sequences exist at this time at NCBI, all from the cat flea C. felis. This work accordingly represents the only relatively extensive sialome description of any flea species. Sialotranscriptomes of additional flea genera will reveal the extent that these novel polypeptide families are common throughout the Siphonaptera.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-102
PMCID: PMC1876217  PMID: 17437641
3.  The Kunitz-Like Modulatory Protein Haemangin Is Vital for Hard Tick Blood-Feeding Success 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(7):e1000497.
Ticks are serious haematophagus arthropod pests and are only second to mosquitoes as vectors of diseases of humans and animals. The salivary glands of the slower feeding hard ticks such as Haemaphysalis longicornis are a rich source of bioactive molecules and are critical to their biologic success, yet distinct molecules that help prolong parasitism on robust mammalian hosts and achieve blood-meals remain unidentified. Here, we report on the molecular and biochemical features and precise functions of a novel Kunitz inhibitor from H. longicornis salivary glands, termed Haemangin, in the modulation of angiogenesis and in persistent blood-feeding. Haemangin was shown to disrupt angiogenesis and wound healing via inhibition of vascular endothelial cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Further, this compound potently inactivated trypsin, chymotrypsin, and plasmin, indicating its antiproteolytic potential on angiogenic cascades. Analysis of Haemangin-specific gene expression kinetics at different blood-feeding stages of adult ticks revealed a dramatic up-regulation prior to complete feeding, which appears to be functionally linked to the acquisition of blood-meals. Notably, disruption of Haemangin-specific mRNA by a reverse genetic tool significantly diminished engorgement of adult H. longicornis, while the knock-down ticks failed to impair angiogenesis in vivo. To our knowledge, we have provided the first insights into transcriptional responses of human microvascular endothelial cells to Haemangin. DNA microarray data revealed that Haemangin altered the expression of 3,267 genes, including those of angiogenic significance, further substantiating the antiangiogenic function of Haemangin. We establish the vital roles of Haemangin in the hard tick blood-feeding process. Moreover, our results provide novel insights into the blood-feeding strategies that enable hard ticks to persistently feed and ensure full blood-meals through the modulation of angiogenesis and wound healing processes.
Author Summary
Ticks are notorious ectoparasites that exclusively feed on a host's blood for a period of 10 days or longer. Upon blood-feeding, an adult female tick gains 100–200 times its body weight compared to its pre-feeding stage. Despite the host's armoury of rejection mechanisms, ticks manage to remain attached until a full blood-meal is ensured. The molecular machineries that make the tick a success with its feeding, however, remain unknown. We demonstrate that the Kunitz-like protein Haemangin, identified from the salivary glands of the tick Haemaphysalis longicornis, plays vital roles in blood-feeding success. Using both cell- and chick embryo–based bioassays, we have shown that Haemangin efficiently disrupted angiogenesis and wound healing processes, enabling ticks to remain attached and allowing persistent feeding. Additionally, in a rabbit model, we reveal that an elevated expression of Haemangin is associated with the acquisition of full blood-meals. Importantly, Haemangin-knockdown ticks fail to prevent angiogenesis in the host's tissues and consequently achieve only a poor blood-meal as compared to normal ticks. We conclude that Haemangin is vital for ticks' survival and can be a novel therapeutic target against ticks and tick-borne diseases, including tumor angiogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000497
PMCID: PMC2701603  PMID: 19593376
4.  An insight into the sialotranscriptome of the non-blood feeding Toxorhynchites amboinensis mosquito 
All adult mosquitoes take sugar meals, and most adult females also take blood meals to develop eggs. Salivary glands (SG) of males are thus much smaller and do not contain many of the antihemostatic and antiinflammatory compounds found in females. In the past 5 years, transcriptome analyses have identified nearly 70 different genes expressed in adult female SG. For most of these, no function can be assigned in either blood or sugar feeding. Exceptionally, Toxorhynchites mosquitoes are unusual in that they never feed on blood, and the SG of adults are identical in both sexes. Transcriptome analysis of the adult SG of this mosquito was performed to increase knowledge of the evolution of blood feeding—and to identify polypeptide families associated with sugar feeding—in mosquitoes.
doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2007.12.006
PMCID: PMC2481231  PMID: 18405828
Salivary glands; Transcriptome; Mosquito; Hematophagy
5.  Dengue Virus Infection of the Aedes aegypti Salivary Gland and Chemosensory Apparatus Induces Genes that Modulate Infection and Blood-Feeding Behavior 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(3):e1002631.
The female Aedes aegypti salivary gland plays a pivotal role in bloodmeal acquisition and reproduction, and thereby dengue virus (DENV) transmission. It produces numerous immune factors, as well as immune-modulatory, vasodilatory, and anti-coagulant molecules that facilitate blood-feeding. To assess the impact of DENV infection on salivary gland physiology and function, we performed a comparative genome-wide microarray analysis of the naïve and DENV infection-responsive A. aegypti salivary gland transcriptomes. DENV infection resulted in the regulation of 147 transcripts that represented a variety of functional classes, including several that are essential for virus transmission, such as immunity, blood-feeding, and host-seeking. RNAi-mediated gene silencing of three DENV infection-responsive genes - a cathepsin B, a putative cystatin, and a hypothetical ankyrin repeat-containing protein - significantly modulated DENV replication in the salivary gland. Furthermore, silencing of two DENV infection-responsive odorant-binding protein genes (OBPs) resulted in an overall compromise in blood acquisition from a single host by increasing the time for initiation of probing and the probing time before a successful bloodmeal. We also show that DENV established an extensive infection in the mosquito's main olfactory organs, the antennae, which resulted in changes of the transcript abundance of key host-seeking genes. DENV infection, however, did not significantly impact probing initiation or probing times in our laboratory infection system. Here we show for the first time that the mosquito salivary gland mounts responses to suppress DENV which, in turn, modulates the expression of chemosensory-related genes that regulate feeding behavior. These reciprocal interactions may have the potential to affect DENV transmission between humans.
Author Summary
Dengue virus (DENV) is transmitted between humans through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Since the virus is inoculated in saliva, infection of the mosquito salivary gland is an essential requirement for transmission. In addition, the gland also produces numerous biologically active compounds that facilitate blood-feeding. Despite the salivary gland's crucial role in DENV transmission, very little is known about the host-pathogen interactions, at the molecular level, in this organ. In this study, we characterized the A. aegypti salivary gland response to DENV infection at both the gene expression and functional levels. We found that DENV induced the expression of several gene transcripts whose products modulate virus replication in the salivary gland. Unexpectedly, the virus also induced transcripts of two odorant-binding proteins, which we demonstrate to be important for mosquito host-seeking and probing behavior. This is the first study to demonstrate that besides affecting cellular processes that modulate virus replication, DENV also has the potential to alter chemosensory processes in ways that may result in increased virus transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002631
PMCID: PMC3315490  PMID: 22479185
6.  A Deep Insight into the Sialome of Male and Female Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0151400.
Only adult female mosquitoes feed on blood, while both genders take sugar meals. Accordingly, several compounds associated with blood feeding (i.e. vasodilators, anti-clotting, anti-platelets) are found only in female glands, while enzymes associated with sugar feeding or antimicrobials (such as lysozyme) are found in the glands of both sexes. We performed de novo assembly of reads from adult Aedes aegypti female and male salivary gland libraries (285 and 90 million reads, respectively). By mapping back the reads to the assembled contigs, plus mapping the reads from a publicly available Ae. aegypti library from adult whole bodies, we identified 360 transcripts (including splice variants and alleles) overexpressed tenfold or more in the glands when compared to whole bodies. Moreover, among these, 207 were overexpressed fivefold or more in female vs. male salivary glands, 85 were near equally expressed and 68 were overexpressed in male glands. We call in particular the attention to C-type lectins, angiopoietins, female-specific Antigen 5, the 9.7 kDa, 12–14 kDa, 23.5 kDa, 62/34 kDa, 4.2 kDa, proline-rich peptide, SG8, 8.7 kDa family and SGS fragments: these polypeptides are all of unknown function, but due to their overexpression in female salivary glands and putative secretory nature they are expected to affect host physiology. We have also found many transposons (some of which novel) and several endogenous viral transcripts (probably acquired by horizontal transfer) which are overexpressed in the salivary glands and may play some role in tissue-specific gene regulation or represent a mechanism of virus interference. This work contributes to a near definitive catalog of male and female salivary gland transcripts from Ae. aegypti, which will help to direct further studies aiming at the functional characterization of the many transcripts with unknown function and the understanding of their role in vector-host interaction and pathogen transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151400
PMCID: PMC4801386  PMID: 26999592
7.  Salivary Gland Proteome Analysis Reveals Modulation of Anopheline Unique Proteins in Insensitive Acetylcholinesterase Resistant Anopheles gambiae Mosquitoes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103816.
Insensitive acetylcholinesterase resistance due to a mutation in the acetylcholinesterase (ace) encoding ace-1 gene confers cross-resistance to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides in Anopheles gambiae populations from Central and West Africa. This mutation is associated with a strong genetic cost revealed through alterations of some life history traits but little is known about the physiological and behavioural changes in insects bearing the ace-1R allele. Comparative analysis of the salivary gland contents between An. gambiae susceptible and ace-1R resistant strains was carried out to charaterize factors that could be involved in modifications of blood meal process, trophic behaviour or pathogen interaction in the insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. Differential analysis of the salivary gland protein profiles revealed differences in abundance for several proteins, two of them showing major differences between the two strains. These two proteins identified as saglin and TRIO are salivary gland-1 related proteins, a family unique to anopheline mosquitoes, one of them playing a crucial role in salivary gland invasion by Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites. Differential expression of two other proteins previously identified in the Anopheles sialome was also observed. The differentially regulated proteins are involved in pathogen invasion, blood feeding process, and protection against oxidation, relevant steps in the outcome of malaria infection. Further functional studies and insect behaviour experiments would confirm the impact of the modification of the sialome composition on blood feeding and pathogen transmission abilities of the resistant mosquitoes. The data supports the hypothesis of alterations linked to insecticide resistance in the biology of the primary vector of human malaria in Africa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103816
PMCID: PMC4125145  PMID: 25102176
8.  Unraveling dual feeding associated molecular complexity of salivary glands in the mosquito Anopheles culicifacies 
Biology Open  2015;4(8):1002-1015.
ABSTRACT
Mosquito salivary glands are well known to facilitate meal acquisition, however the fundamental question on how adult female salivary gland manages molecular responses during sugar versus blood meal uptake remains unanswered. To investigate these responses, we analyzed a total of 58.5 million raw reads generated from two independent RNAseq libraries of the salivary glands collected from 3–4 day-old sugar and blood fed Anopheles culicifacies mosquitoes. Comprehensive functional annotation analysis of 10,931 contigs unraveled that salivary glands may encode diverse nature of proteins in response to distinct physiological feeding status. Digital gene expression analysis and PCR validation indicated that first blood meal significantly alters the molecular architecture of the salivary glands. Comparative microscopic analysis also revealed that first blood meal uptake not only causes an alteration of at least 12–22% of morphological features of the salivary glands but also results in cellular changes e.g. apoptosis, confirming together that adult female salivary glands are specialized organs to manage meal specific responses. Unraveling the underlying mechanism of mosquito salivary gene expression, controlling dual feeding associated responses may provide a new opportunity to control vector borne diseases.
doi:10.1242/bio.012294
PMCID: PMC4542284  PMID: 26163527
Malaria; Mosquito; Salivary gland; Sugar and blood feeding; Gene expression
9.  An insight into the sialome of the soft tick, Ornithodorus parkeri 
While hard ticks (Ixodidae) take several days to feed on their hosts, soft ticks (Argasidae) feed faster, usually taking less than one hour per meal. Saliva assists in the feeding process by providing a cocktail of anti-hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and immunomodullatory compounds. Saliva of hard ticks has been shown to contain several families of genes each having multiple members, while those of soft ticks are relatively unexplored.
Analysis of the salivary transcriptome of the soft tick Ornithodorus parkeri, the vector of the relapsing fever agent Borrelia parkeri, indicates that gene duplication events have led to a large expansion of the lipocalin family, as well as of several genes containing Kunitz domains indicative of serine protease inhibitors, and several other gene families also found in hard ticks. Novel protein families with sequence homology to insulin growth factor-binding protein (prostacyclin-stimulating factor), adrenomedulin, serum amyloid A protein precursor and similar to HIV envelope protein were also characterized for the first time in the salivary gland of a blood-sucking arthropod.
The sialotranscriptome of O. parkeri confirms that gene duplication events are an important driving force in the creation of salivary cocktails of blood-feeding arthropods, as was observed with hard ticks and mosquitoes. Most of the genes coding for expanded families are homologous to those found in hard ticks, indicating a strong common evolutionary path between the two families. As happens to all genera of blood-sucking arthropods, several new proteins were also found, indicating the process of adaptation to blood feeding still continues to recent times.
doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2007.09.009
PMCID: PMC2233652  PMID: 18070662
Ornithodorus parkeri; Ixodidae; Argasidae; Sialotranscriptomes; salivary gland transcriptome; sialome; Tick salivary glands
10.  Deep Sequencing Analysis of the Ixodes ricinus Haemocytome 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(5):e0003754.
Background
Ixodes ricinus is the main tick vector of the microbes that cause Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis in Europe. Pathogens transmitted by ticks have to overcome innate immunity barriers present in tick tissues, including midgut, salivary glands epithelia and the hemocoel. Molecularly, invertebrate immunity is initiated when pathogen recognition molecules trigger serum or cellular signalling cascades leading to the production of antimicrobials, pathogen opsonization and phagocytosis. We presently aimed at identifying hemocyte transcripts from semi-engorged female I. ricinus ticks by mass sequencing a hemocyte cDNA library and annotating immune-related transcripts based on their hemocyte abundance as well as their ubiquitous distribution.
Methodology/principal findings
De novo assembly of 926,596 pyrosequence reads plus 49,328,982 Illumina reads (148 nt length) from a hemocyte library, together with over 189 million Illumina reads from salivary gland and midgut libraries, generated 15,716 extracted coding sequences (CDS); these are displayed in an annotated hyperlinked spreadsheet format. Read mapping allowed the identification and annotation of tissue-enriched transcripts. A total of 327 transcripts were found significantly over expressed in the hemocyte libraries, including those coding for scavenger receptors, antimicrobial peptides, pathogen recognition proteins, proteases and protease inhibitors. Vitellogenin and lipid metabolism transcription enrichment suggests fat body components. We additionally annotated ubiquitously distributed transcripts associated with immune function, including immune-associated signal transduction proteins and transcription factors, including the STAT transcription factor.
Conclusions/significance
This is the first systems biology approach to describe the genes expressed in the haemocytes of this neglected disease vector. A total of 2,860 coding sequences were deposited to GenBank, increasing to 27,547 the number so far deposited by our previous transcriptome studies that serves as a discovery platform for studies with I. ricinus biochemistry and physiology.
Author Summary
Ixodes ricinus transmits Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis in Europe. Tick-borne pathogens ingested with a blood meal persist in the tick gut and, during the next feeding stage, disseminate through the haemolymph to pass into a vertebrate host via the salivary glands. Invertebrate immunity is initiated when tick pathogen recognition molecules trigger serum or cellular signalling cascades. We aimed to identify haemocyte transcripts from semi-engorged female I. ricinus ticks by deep sequencing a haemocyte cDNA library and by annotating immune-related transcripts based on their abundance in haemocytes and their sequence divergence when compared to their arthropod homo(ortho)logues. 15,716 extracted coding sequences (CDS) were generated in total, and 327 transcripts were significantly overexpressed in haemocytes. These included those coding for scavenger receptors, antimicrobial peptides, pathogen recognition proteins, proteases, and protease inhibitors. Transcriptional enrichment of vitellogenin and lipid metabolism effectors suggests that body fat components mediate tick innate immunity. Annotation of ubiquitously distributed transcripts associated with immune function and their phylogenetic analysis provide insights into the evolution of major protein families involved in tick innate immunity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003754
PMCID: PMC4430169  PMID: 25970599
11.  An Updated Insight into the Sialotranscriptome of Triatoma infestans: Developmental Stage and Geographic Variations 
Background
Triatoma infestans is the main vector of Chagas disease in South America. As in all hematophagous arthropods, its saliva contains a complex cocktail that assists blood feeding by preventing platelet aggregation and blood clotting and promoting vasodilation. These salivary components can be immunologically recognized by their vector's hosts and targeted with antibodies that might disrupt blood feeding. These antibodies can be used to detect vector exposure using immunoassays. Antibodies may also contribute to the fast evolution of the salivary cocktail.
Methodology
Salivary gland cDNA libraries from nymphal and adult T. infestans of breeding colonies originating from different locations (Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia), and cDNA libraries originating from F1 populations of Bolivia, were sequenced using Illumina technology. Coding sequences (CDS) were extracted from the assembled reads, the numbers of reads mapped to these CDS, sequences were functionally annotated and polymorphisms determined.
Main findings/Significance
Over five thousand CDS, mostly full length or near full length, were publicly deposited on GenBank. Transcripts that were over 10-fold overexpressed from different geographical regions, or from different developmental stages were identified. Polymorphisms were mapped to derived coding sequences, and found to vary between developmental instars and geographic origin of the biological material. This expanded sialome database from T. infestans should be of assistance in future proteomic work attempting to identify salivary proteins that might be used as epidemiological markers of vector exposure, or proteins of pharmacological interest.
Author Summary
Triatoma infestans is the main vector of Chagas disease in South America. As in all hematophagous arthropods, its saliva contains a complex cocktail that assists blood feeding by preventing platelet aggregation and blood clotting and promoting vasodilation. These salivary components can be immunologically recognized by their hosts and targeted with antibodies that might disrupt blood feeding. The respective antibodies can be used to detect vector exposure using immunoassays. On the other hand, antibodies may also contribute to the fast evolution of the salivary cocktail. In this work, we attempted to identify variations in the salivary proteins of T. infestans using Illumina technology that allowed identification of over five thousand proteins based on over 300 million sequences obtained from ten salivary gland libraries. This expanded sialome database from T. infestans should be of assistance in future work attempting to identify salivary proteins that might be used as epidemiological markers of vector exposure, or proteins of pharmacological interest.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003372
PMCID: PMC4256203  PMID: 25474469
12.  Mating-Induced Transcriptome Changes in the Reproductive Tract of Female Aedes aegypti 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2016;10(2):e0004451.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a significant public health threat, as it is the main vector of dengue and chikungunya viruses. Disease control efforts could be enhanced through reproductive manipulation of these vectors. Previous work has revealed a relationship between male seminal fluid proteins transferred to females during mating and female post-mating physiology and behavior. To better understand this interplay, we used short-read RNA sequencing to identify gene expression changes in the lower reproductive tract of females in response to mating. We characterized mRNA expression in virgin and mated females at 0, 6 and 24 hours post-mating (hpm) and identified 364 differentially abundant transcripts between mating status groups. Surprisingly, 60 transcripts were more abundant at 0hpm compared to virgin females, suggesting transfer from males. Twenty of these encode known Ae. aegypti seminal fluid proteins. Transfer and detection of male accessory gland-derived mRNA in females at 0hpm was confirmed by measurement of eGFP mRNA in females mated to eGFP-expressing males. In addition, 150 transcripts were up-regulated at 6hpm and 24hpm, while 130 transcripts were down-regulated at 6hpm and 24hpm. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis revealed that proteases, a protein class broadly known to play important roles in reproduction, were among the most enriched protein classes. RNAs associated with immune system and antimicrobial function were also up-regulated at 24hpm. Collectively, our results suggest that copulation initiates broad transcriptome changes across the mosquito female reproductive tract, “priming” her for important subsequent processes of blood feeding, egg development and immune defense. Our transcriptome analysis provides a vital foundation for future studies of the consequences of mating on female biology and will aid studies seeking to identify specific gene families, molecules and pathways that support key reproductive processes in the female mosquito.
Author Summary
Female post-mating behavior has important consequences for mosquito populations and their ability to transmit diseases. Male Aedes aegypti seminal fluid substances transferred during mating cause many important changes to female behavior and physiology, including blood feeding behavior, egg development, and oviposition. In an effort to understand how males induce these responses in Ae. aegypti females, we characterized the transcriptome changes that occur in the female reproductive tract at different time points after mating. We found several RNAs that are apparently transferred by the male, and 280 genes whose mRNA abundance in the female is affected by mating. The nature of the predicted products of many of these genes suggests roles in priming the reproductive tract for egg development, protecting the female against bacterial infections or processing the blood meal. This identification of mating-responsive genes provides information potentially useful for developing tools aimed at preventing disease transmission by manipulating female mosquitoes’ post-mating responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004451
PMCID: PMC4764262  PMID: 26901677
13.  An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:213.
Background
Blood feeding evolved independently in worms, arthropods and mammals. Among the adaptations to this peculiar diet, these animals developed an armament of salivary molecules that disarm their host's anti-bleeding defenses (hemostasis), inflammatory and immune reactions. Recent sialotranscriptome analyses (from the Greek sialo = saliva) of blood feeding insects and ticks have revealed that the saliva contains hundreds of polypeptides, many unique to their genus or family. Adult tsetse flies feed exclusively on vertebrate blood and are important vectors of human and animal diseases. Thus far, only limited information exists regarding the Glossina sialome, or any other fly belonging to the Hippoboscidae.
Results
As part of the effort to sequence the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, several organ specific, high quality normalized cDNA libraries have been constructed, from which over 20,000 ESTs from an adult salivary gland library were sequenced. These ESTs have been assembled using previously described ESTs from the fat body and midgut libraries of the same fly, thus totaling 62,251 ESTs, which have been assembled into 16,743 clusters (8,506 of which had one or more EST from the salivary gland library). Coding sequences were obtained for 2,509 novel proteins, 1,792 of which had at least one EST expressed in the salivary glands. Despite library normalization, 59 transcripts were overrepresented in the salivary library indicating high levels of expression. This work presents a detailed analysis of the salivary protein families identified. Protein expression was confirmed by 2D gel electrophoresis, enzymatic digestion and mass spectrometry. Concurrently, an initial attempt to determine the immunogenic properties of selected salivary proteins was undertaken.
Conclusions
The sialome of G. m. morsitans contains over 250 proteins that are possibly associated with blood feeding. This set includes alleles of previously described gene products, reveals new evidence that several salivary proteins are multigenic and identifies at least seven new polypeptide families unique to Glossina. Most of these proteins have no known function and thus, provide a discovery platform for the identification of novel pharmacologically active compounds, innovative vector-based vaccine targets, and immunological markers of vector exposure.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-213
PMCID: PMC2853526  PMID: 20353571
14.  Gene expression changes in the salivary glands of Anopheles coluzzii elicited by Plasmodium berghei infection 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:485.
Background
Malaria is a devastating infectious disease caused by Plasmodium parasites transmitted through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Salivary glands are the only mosquito tissue invaded by Plasmodium sporozoites, being a key stage for the effective parasite transmission, making the study of Anopheles sialome highly relevant.
Methods
RNA-sequencing was used to compare differential gene expression in salivary glands of uninfected and Plasmodium berghei-infected Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes. RNA-seq results were validated by quantitative RT-PCR. The transmembrane glucose transporter gene AGAP007752 was selected for functional analysis by RNA interference. The effect of gene silencing on infection level was evaluated. The putative function and tertiary structure of the protein was assessed.
Results
RNA-seq data showed that 2588 genes were differentially expressed in mosquitoes salivary glands in response to P. berghei infection, being 1578 upregulated and 1010 downregulated. Metabolism, Immunity, Replication/Transcription/Translation, Proteolysis and Transport were the mosquito gene functional classes more affected by parasite infection. Endopeptidase coding genes were the most abundant within the differentially expressed genes in infected salivary glands (P < 0.001). Based on its putative function and expression level, the transmembrane glucose transporter gene, AGAP007752, was selected for functional analysis by RNA interference. The results demonstrated that the number of sporozoites was 44.3 % lower in mosquitoes fed on infected mice after AGAPP007752 gene knockdown when compared to control (P < 0.01).
Conclusions
Our hypothesis is that the protein encoded by the gene AGAPP007752 may play a role on An. coluzzii salivary glands infection by Plasmodium parasite, working as a sporozoite receptor and/or promoting a favorable environment for the capacity of sporozoites.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-015-1079-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13071-015-1079-8
PMCID: PMC4580310  PMID: 26395987
Anopheles coluzzii; Salivary glands; Plasmodium berghei; Sporozoite; RNA-seq; Glucose transporter; RNAi
15.  Temporal Gene Expression Profiles of Pre Blood-Fed Adult Females Immediately Following Eclosion in the Southern House Mosquito Culex Quinquefasciatus 
Prior to acquisition of the first host blood meal, the anautogenous mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus requires a period of time in order to prepare for the blood feeding and, later, vitellogenesis. In the current study, we conducted whole transcriptome analyses of adult female Culex mosquitoes to identify genes that may be necessary for both taking of the blood meal, and processing of the blood meal in adult female mosquitoes Cx. quinquefasciatus. We examined temporal expression of genes for the periods of post eclosion and prior to the female freely taking a blood meal. We further evaluated the temporal expression of certain genes for the periods after the taking of a blood meal to identify genes that may be necessary for both the taking of the blood meal, and the processing of the blood meal. We found that adult females required a minimum of 48 h post-eclosion before they freely took their first blood meal. We hypothesized that gene expression signatures were altered in the mosquitoes before blood feeding in preparation for the acquisition of the blood meal through changes in multiple gene expression. To identify the genes involved in the acquisition of blood feeding, we quantified the gene expression levels of adult female Cx. quinquefasciatus using RNA Seq throughout a pre-blooding period from 2 to 72 h post eclosion at 12 h intervals. A total of 325 genes were determined to be differentially-expressed throughout the pre-blooding period, with the majority of differentially-expressed genes occurring between the 2 h and 12 h post-eclosion time points. Among the up-regulated genes were salivary proteins, cytochrome P450s, odorant-binding proteins, and proteases, while the majority of the down-regulated genes were hypothetical or cuticular genes. In addition, Trypsin was found to be up-regulated immediately following blood feeding, while trypsin and chymotrypsin were up-regulated at 48h and 60h post blood-feeding, respectively, suggesting that these proteases are likely involved in the digestion of the blood meal. Overall, this study reviewed multiple genes that might be involved in the adult female competency for blood meal acquisition in mosquitoes.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.12829
PMCID: PMC4582154  PMID: 26435696
Vitellogenesis; blood feeding; Culex quinquefasciatus
16.  Cloning and characterization of a mannose binding C-type lectin gene from salivary gland of Aedes albopictus 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:337.
Background
The studies on sialomes have shown that hematophagous mosquito saliva consists of a lot of pharmacologically active proteins, in which C-type lectins have been identified and regarded as an important component of saliva. The previous studies showed that C-type lectins play crucial roles not only in innate immunity but also in promoting disease transmission in mammals. However, the function and mechanism of C-type lectins from the mosquito sialome is still elusive.
Methods
A putative C-type lectin gene (Aalb_CTL1) was cloned and expressed from Aedes albopictus by RT-PCR. The deduced amino acid sequence was analyzed by bioinformatic methods. The gene expression profiles in different tissues and various blood-fed stages of Ae. albopictus were examined by Real-Time qRT-PCR and the biological functions of the recombined mature Aalb_CTL1 were tested by hemagglutination and sugar inhibitory agglutination assays. Moreover, the capabilities of rAalb_CTL1 against microorganisms were measured by microbial-agglutination assay.
Results
The full-length Open reading frame (ORF) of Aalb_CTL1 consisted of 462 bp, encoding 153 amino acid residues. The deduced amino acid sequence contained a putative signal peptide of 19 amino acids. It also contained a CRD domain with a WND (Trp137-Asn138-Asp-139) motif that needed calcium for the hemagglutinating activity and an imperfect EPS (Glu128-Pro129-Ser130) motif that had a predicted ligand binding specificity for mannose. The mRNA level of Aalb_CTL1 was much higher in female mosquito salivary gland than those in fat body and midgut which was down-regulated in salivary gland after blood feeding. The rAalb_CTL1 contained not only hemagglutinating activity and a high affinity with mannose but also agglutinating activity against yeast C. albicans and Gram-positive bacteria S. aureus in Ca2+ dependent manner.
Conclusion
Aalb_CTL1 was a mannose-binding C-type lectin and constituted one of the important components in saliva of Ae. albopictus, which could be involved in the defense against yeast and Gram-positive bacteria infection.
doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-337
PMCID: PMC4223726  PMID: 25051984
C-type lectin; Salivary gland; Ae. albopictus; Prokaryotic expression; Agglutinating activity
17.  The neurotranscriptome of the Aedes aegypti mosquito 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:32.
Background
A complete genome sequence and the advent of genome editing open up non-traditional model organisms to mechanistic genetic studies. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is an important vector of infectious diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever and has a large and complex genome, which has slowed annotation efforts. We used comprehensive transcriptomic analysis of adult gene expression to improve the genome annotation and to provide a detailed tissue-specific catalogue of neural gene expression at different adult behavioral states.
Results
We carried out deep RNA sequencing across all major peripheral male and female sensory tissues, the brain and (female) ovary. Furthermore, we examined gene expression across three important phases of the female reproductive cycle, a remarkable example of behavioral switching in which a female mosquito alternates between obtaining blood-meals from humans and laying eggs. Using genome-guided alignments and de novo transcriptome assembly, our re-annotation includes 572 new putative protein-coding genes and updates to 13.5 and 50.3 % of existing transcripts within coding sequences and untranslated regions, respectively. Using this updated annotation, we detail gene expression in each tissue, identifying large numbers of transcripts regulated by blood-feeding and sexually dimorphic transcripts that may provide clues to the biology of male- and female-specific behaviors, such as mating and blood-feeding, which are areas of intensive study for those interested in vector control.
Conclusions
This neurotranscriptome forms a strong foundation for the study of genes in the mosquito nervous system and investigation of sensory-driven behaviors and their regulation. Furthermore, understanding the molecular genetic basis of mosquito chemosensory behavior has important implications for vector control.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2239-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2239-0
PMCID: PMC4704297  PMID: 26738925
Mosquito; Aedes aegypti; mRNA-sequencing; De novo genome assembly; Host-seeking behavior; Neural genes; Chemosensory receptors; Ion channels; G protein-coupled receptors; Gonotrophic cycle; Neurogenetics
18.  An Insight into the Sialome of the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum, with a Glimpse on Its Time Dependent Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0131292.
Hard ticks feed for several days or weeks on their hosts. Blood feeding is assisted by tick saliva, which is injected in the host skin regularly, alternating with blood ingestion. Tick saliva contains hundreds or thousands of different peptides and other bioactive compounds that assist feeding by inhibiting their hosts’ blood clotting, platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction, as well as pain and itching. Immunomodulatory and antimicrobial peptides are also found in tick saliva. Molecular characterization of tick salivary compounds, or its sialome (from the Greek sialos = saliva), helps identification of possible antigens that might confer anti-tick immunity, as well as identifying novel pharmacologically active compounds. Amblyomma americanum is a major nuisance tick in Eastern and Southern US, being a vector of Theileria and Ehrlichia bacteria to animals and humans. Presently we report an RNAseq study concerning the salivary glands of adult female A. americanum ticks, which involved sequencing of four libraries collected at different times of feeding. A total of 5,792 coding sequences were deduced from the transcriptome assembly, 3,139 of which were publicly deposited, expanding from the previously available 146 salivary sequences found in GenBank. A remarkable time-dependent transcript expression was found, mostly related to secretory products, supporting the idea that ticks may have several “sialomes” that are expressed at different times during feeding. The molecular nature of this sialome switching remains unknown. The hyperlinked spreadsheet containing the deduced coding sequences can be found at http://exon.niaid.nih.gov/transcriptome/Amb_americanum/Ambame-web.xlsx.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131292
PMCID: PMC4489193  PMID: 26131772
19.  Longistatin, a Plasminogen Activator, Is Key to the Availability of Blood-Meals for Ixodid Ticks 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(3):e1001312.
Ixodid ticks are notorious blood-sucking ectoparasites and are completely dependent on blood-meals from hosts. In addition to the direct severe effects on health and productivity, ixodid ticks transmit various deadly diseases to humans and animals. Unlike rapidly feeding vessel-feeder hematophagous insects, the hard ticks feed on hosts for a long time (5−10 days or more), making a large blood pool beneath the skin. Tick's salivary glands produce a vast array of bio-molecules that modulate their complex and persistent feeding processes. However, the specific molecule that functions in the development and maintenance of a blood pool is yet to be identified. Recently, we have reported on longistatin, a 17.8-kDa protein with two functional EF-hand Ca++-binding domains, from the salivary glands of the disease vector, Haemaphysalis longicornis, that has been shown to be linked to blood-feeding processes. Here, we show that longistatin plays vital roles in the formation of a blood pool and in the acquisition of blood-meals. Data clearly revealed that post-transcriptional silencing of the longistatin-specific gene disrupted ticks' unique ability to create a blood pool, and they consequently failed to feed and replete on blood-meals from hosts. Longistatin completely hydrolyzed α, β and γ chains of fibrinogen and delayed fibrin clot formation. Longistatin was able to bind with fibrin meshwork, and activated fibrin clot-bound plasminogen into its active form plasmin, as comparable to that of tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), and induced lysis of fibrin clot and platelet-rich thrombi. Plasminogen activation potentiality of longistatin was increased up to 4 times by soluble fibrin. Taken together, our results suggest that longistatin may exert potent functions both as a plasminogen activator and as an anticoagulant in the complex scenario of blood pool formation; the latter is critical to the feeding success and survival of ixodid ticks.
Author Summary
Ixodid ticks are serious blood-sucking ectoparasites that are essentially dependent on blood-meals from hosts for survival. The feeding mechanism of hard ticks, however, is very complex and is quite different from that of blood-sucking insects that suck blood rapidly and directly from blood vessels. Hard ticks suck blood for quite a long period (5−10 days or more) by making a large blood pool beneath the skin. Despite the fact that mammalian hosts are armored with strong blood clotting machineries, ticks manage to keep the blood in a fluid state and to maintain a blood pool until a full blood-meal is secured. However, very little is known about the anti-hemostatic mechanisms by which ticks cleverly manipulate the host's blood clotting cascade and make blood-meals available. Here, we show that longistatin, a salivary gland protein identified from the tick Haemaphysalis longicornis, can efficiently manipulate the host's blood clotting machineries, such as fibrinogen, fibrin and plasminogen, and can help prevent cascade of blood clotting. In conclusion, longistatin plays a crucial role in the blood-feeding success of hard ticks and can be a novel therapeutic target against ticks and tick-borne diseases, including human occlusive cardiovascular diseases like thrombosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001312
PMCID: PMC3053353  PMID: 21423674
20.  Differential expression of Aedes aegypti salivary transcriptome upon blood feeding 
Parasites & Vectors  2009;2:34.
Saliva of Aedes aegypti contains a complex array of proteins essential for both blood feeding and pathogen transmission. A large numbers of those proteins are classified as unknown in regard to their function(s). Understanding the dynamic interactions at the mosquito-host interface can be achieved in part by characterizing mosquito salivary gland gene expression relative to blood feeding. Towards this end, we developed an oligonucleotide microarray representing 463 transcripts to determine differential regulation of salivary gland genes. This microarray was used to investigate the temporal gene expression pattern of Ae. aegypti salivary gland transcriptome at different times post-blood feeding. Expression of the majority of salivary gland genes (77–87%) did not change significantly as a result of blood feeding, while 8 to 20% of genes were down-regulated and 2.8 to 11.6% genes were up-regulated. Up-regulated genes included defensins, mucins and other immune related proteins. Odorant-binding protein was significantly down-regulated. Among unknown function proteins, several were up-regulated during the first three hours post-blood feeding and one was significantly down-regulated. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR was used to substantiate differential expression patterns of five randomly selected genes. Linear regression analysis revealed a high degree of correlation (R2 > 0.89) between oligonucleotide microarray and quantitative RT-PCR data. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate differential expression of the Ae. aegypti salivary gland transcriptome upon blood feeding. A microarray provides a robust, sensitive way to investigate differential regulation of mosquito salivary gland genes.
doi:10.1186/1756-3305-2-34
PMCID: PMC2720950  PMID: 19630962
21.  The salivary gland transcriptome of the neotropical malaria vector Anopheles darlingi reveals accelerated evolution of genes relevant to hematophagy 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:57.
Background
Mosquito saliva, consisting of a mixture of dozens of proteins affecting vertebrate hemostasis and having sugar digestive and antimicrobial properties, helps both blood and sugar meal feeding. Culicine and anopheline mosquitoes diverged ~150 MYA, and within the anophelines, the New World species diverged from those of the Old World ~95 MYA. While the sialotranscriptome (from the Greek sialo, saliva) of several species of the Cellia subgenus of Anopheles has been described thoroughly, no detailed analysis of any New World anopheline has been done to date. Here we present and analyze data from a comprehensive salivary gland (SG) transcriptome of the neotropical malaria vector Anopheles darlingi (subgenus Nyssorhynchus).
Results
A total of 2,371 clones randomly selected from an adult female An. darlingi SG cDNA library were sequenced and used to assemble a database that yielded 966 clusters of related sequences, 739 of which were singletons. Primer extension experiments were performed in selected clones to further extend sequence coverage, allowing for the identification of 183 protein sequences, 114 of which code for putative secreted proteins.
Conclusion
Comparative analysis of sialotranscriptomes of An. darlingi and An. gambiae reveals significant divergence of salivary proteins. On average, salivary proteins are only 53% identical, while housekeeping proteins are 86% identical between the two species. Furthermore, An. darlingi proteins were found that match culicine but not anopheline proteins, indicating loss or rapid evolution of these proteins in the old world Cellia subgenus. On the other hand, several well represented salivary protein families in old world anophelines are not expressed in An. darlingi.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-57
PMCID: PMC2644710  PMID: 19178717
22.  Sexual differences in the sialomes of the zebra tick, Rhipicephalus pulchellus 
Journal of proteomics  2015;117:120-144.
Ticks rely exclusively on vertebrate blood for their survival. During feeding ticks inject into their hosts a sophisticated salivary potion that overcomes host hemostasis and adverse inflammatory responses. These mediators may also enhance pathogen transmission. Knowledge of the tick salivary protein repertoire may lead to vaccine targets to disrupt feeding and/or parasite transmission as well as to the discovery of novel pharmacological agents. Male saliva may also assist reproduction because males use their mouthparts to lubricate and introduce their spermatophores into the females’ genital pore. The analyses of the sialomes of male and female ticks independently allow us to understand the strategy used by each gender to feed successfully.We sequenced cDNA libraries from pools of salivary glands from adult male and female R. pulchellus feeding at different time points, using the Illumina HiSeq protocol. De novo assembly of a total of 241,229,128 paired-end reads lead to extraction of 50,460 coding sequences (CDS), 11,277 of which had more than 75% coverage to known transcripts, or represented novel sequences, and were submitted to GenBank. Additionally, we generated the proteome, from the salivary gland extracts of male and female R. pulchellus, yielding a total of 454 and 2,063 proteins respectively which were identified by one or more peptides with at least 95% confidence. The data set is presented as an annotated hyperlinked Excel spreadsheet, describing 121 putative secreted protein families. Female and male specific transcripts were identified.
doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2014.12.014
PMCID: PMC4374903  PMID: 25576852
23.  The Anopheles gambiae cE5, a tight- and fast-binding thrombin inhibitor with post-transcriptionally regulated salivary-restricted expression 
Mosquito saliva carries a large number of factors with anti-hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory activities. The cE5 protein was initially identified during an Anopheles gambiae salivary gland transcriptome study and later shown to share sequence similarity with anophelin, a thrombin inhibitor from the saliva of the New World mosquito Anopheles albimanus. The cE5 gene was found to encode different mRNA isoforms coexisting in several tissues of both male and female mosquitoes, a highly unusual profile for a gene potentially encoding an anti-thrombin and involved in blood feeding. Expression of the cE5 protein and assessment of its activity and inhibitory properties showed that it is a highly specific and tight-binding thrombin inhibitor, which differs from the An. albimanus orthologue for the fast-binding kinetics. Despite the widespread occurrence of cE5 transcripts in different mosquito tissues the corresponding protein was only found in female salivary glands, where it undergoes post-translational modification. Therefore, tissue-specific restriction of the An. gambiae cE5 is not achieved by transcriptional control, as common for mosquito salivary genes involved in hematophagy, but by post-trascriptional gene regulatory mechanisms. Our observations provide a paradigm of post-transcriptional regulation as key determinant of tissue specificity for a protein from an important disease vector and point out that transcriptomic data should be interpreted with caution in the absence of concomitant proteomic support.
doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.04.008
PMCID: PMC3416949  PMID: 22617725
Anopheles; salivary protein; anti-thrombin; anophelin; hematophagy; post-transcriptional regulation
24.  Identification of Salivary Gland Proteins Depleted after Blood Feeding in the Malaria Vector Anopheles campestris-like Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90809.
Malaria sporozoites must invade the salivary glands of mosquitoes for maturation before transmission to vertebrate hosts. The duration of the sporogonic cycle within the mosquitoes ranges from 10 to 21 days depending on the parasite species and temperature. During blood feeding salivary gland proteins are injected into the vertebrate host, along with malaria sporozoites in the case of an infected mosquito. To identify salivary gland proteins depleted after blood feeding of female Anopheles campestris-like, a potential malaria vector of Plasmodium vivax in Thailand, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and nano-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques were used. Results showed that 19 major proteins were significantly depleted in three to four day-old mosquitoes fed on a first blood meal. For the mosquitoes fed the second blood meal on day 14 after the first blood meal, 14 major proteins were significantly decreased in amount. The significantly depleted proteins in both groups included apyrase, 5′-nucleotidase/apyrase, D7, D7-related 1, short form D7r1, gSG6, anti-platelet protein, serine/threonine-protein kinase rio3, putative sil1, cyclophilin A, hypothetical protein Phum_PHUM512530, AGAP007618-PA, and two non-significant hit proteins. To our knowledge, this study presents for the first time the salivary gland proteins that are involved in the second blood feeding on the day corresponding to the transmission period of the sporozoites to new mammalian hosts. This information serves as a basis for future work concerning the possible role of these proteins in the parasite transmission and the physiological processes that occur during the blood feeding.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090809
PMCID: PMC3944739  PMID: 24599352
25.  Exploring the mialome of ticks: an annotated catalogue of midgut transcripts from the hard tick, Dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae) 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:552.
Background
Ticks are obligate blood feeders. The midgut is the first major region of the body where blood and microbes ingested with the blood meal come in contact with the tick's internal tissues. Little is known about protein expression in the digestive tract of ticks. In this study, for analysis of global gene expression during tick attachment and feeding, we generated and sequenced 1,679 random transcripts (ESTs) from cDNA libraries from the midguts of female ticks at varying stages of feeding.
Results
Sequence analysis of the 1,679 ESTs resulted in the identification of 835 distinct transcripts, from these, a total of 82 transcripts were identified as proteins putatively directly involved in blood meal digestion, including enzymes involved in oxidative stress reduction/antimicrobial activity/detoxification, peptidase inhibitors, protein digestion (cysteine-, aspartic-, serine-, and metallo-peptidases), cell, protein and lipid binding including mucins and iron/heme metabolism and transport. A lectin-like protein with a high match to lectins in other tick species, allergen-like proteins and surface antigens important in pathogen recognition and/or antimicrobial activity were also found. Furthermore, midguts collected from the 6-day-fed ticks expressed twice as many transcripts involved in bloodmeal processing as midguts from unfed/2-day-fed ticks.
Conclusion
This tissue-specific transcriptome analysis provides an opportunity to examine the global expression of transcripts in the tick midgut and to compare the gut response to host attachment versus blood feeding and digestion. In contrast to those in salivary glands of other Ixodid ticks, most proteins in the D. variabilis midgut cDNA library were intracellular. Of the total ESTs associated with a function, an unusually large number of transcripts were associated with peptidases, cell, lipid and protein binding, and oxidative stress or detoxification. Presumably, this is consistent with their role in intracellular processing of the blood meal and response to microbial infections. The presence of many proteins with similar functions is consistent with the hypothesis that gene duplication contributed to the successful adaptation of ticks to hematophagy. Furthermore, these transcripts may be useful to scientists investigating the role of the tick midgut in blood-meal digestion, antimicrobial activity or the transmission of tick-borne pathogens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-552
PMCID: PMC2644717  PMID: 19021911

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