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1.  An Insight into the Sialotranscriptome of the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44612.
Saliva of hematophagous arthropods contains a diverse mixture of compounds that counteracts host hemostasis. Immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory components are also found in these organisms' saliva. Blood feeding evolved at least ten times within arthropods, providing a scenario of convergent evolution for the solution of the salivary potion. Perhaps because of immune pressure from hosts, the salivary proteins of related organisms have considerable divergence, and new protein families are often found within different genera of the same family or even among subgenera. Fleas radiated with their vertebrate hosts, including within the mammal expansion initiated 65 million years ago. Currently, only one flea species–the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis–has been investigated by means of salivary transcriptome analysis to reveal salivary constituents, or sialome. We present the analysis of the sialome of cat flea Ctenocephaides felis.
Methodology and Critical Findings
A salivary gland cDNA library from adult fleas was randomly sequenced, assembled, and annotated. Sialomes of cat and rat fleas have in common the enzyme families of phosphatases (inactive), CD-39-type apyrase, adenosine deaminases, and esterases. Antigen-5 members are also common to both sialomes, as are defensins. FS-I/Cys7 and the 8-Cys families of peptides are also shared by both fleas and are unique to these organisms. The Gly-His-rich peptide similar to holotricin was found only in the cat flea, as were the abundantly expressed Cys-less peptide and a novel short peptide family.
Fleas, in contrast to bloodsucking Nematocera (mosquitoes, sand flies, and black flies), appear to concentrate a good portion of their sialome in small polypeptides, none of which have a known function but could act as inhibitors of hemostasis or inflammation. They are also unique in expansion of a phosphatase family that appears to be deficient of enzyme activity and has an unknown function.
PMCID: PMC3458046  PMID: 23049752
2.  An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:213.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2853526  PMID: 20353571
3.  An insight into the salivary transcriptome and proteome of the soft tick and vector of epizootic bovine abortion, Ornithodoros coriaceus 
Journal of proteomics  2008;71(5):493-512.
The salivary glands of blood sucking arthropods contain a redundant ‘magic potion’ that counteracts their vertebrate host’s hemostasis, inflammation, and immunity. We here describe the salivary transcriptome and proteomics (sialome) of the soft tick Ornithodoros coriaceus. The resulting analysis helps to consolidate the classification of common proteins found in both soft and hard ticks, such as the lipocalins, Kunitz, cystatin, basic tail, hebraein, defensin, TIL domain, metalloprotease, 5′-nucleotidase/apyrase, and phospholipase families, and also to identify protein families uniquely found in the Argasidae, such as the adrenomedullin/CGRP peptides, 7DB, 7 kDa, and the RGD containing single Kunitz proteins. Additionally, we found a protein belonging to the cytotoxin protein family that has so far only been identified in hard ticks. Three other unique families common only to the Ornithodoros genus were discovered. Edman degradation, 2D and 1D PAGE of salivary gland homogenates followed by tryptic digestion and HPLC MS/MS of results confirms the presence of several proteins. These results indicate that each genus of hematophagous arthropods studied to date evolved unique protein families that assist blood feeding, thus characterizing potentially new pharmacologically active components or antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC2617759  PMID: 18725333
Ornithodoros coriaceus; Ixodidae; Argasidae; Sialotranscriptome; Salivary gland transcriptome; Sialome; Tick salivary gland; Ixolaris
4.  An insight into the sialome of the bed bug, Cimex lectularius 
Journal of proteome research  2010;9(8):3820-3831.
The evolution of insects to a blood diet leads to the development of a saliva that antagonizes their hosts' hemostasis and inflammation. Hemostasis and inflammation are redundant processes, and thus a complex salivary potion comprised of dozens or near one hundred different polypeptides is commonly found by transcriptome or proteome analysis of these organisms. Several insect orders or families evolved independently to hematophagy creating unique salivary potions in the form of novel pharmacological use of endogenous substances, and in the form of unique proteins not matching other known proteins, these probably arriving by fast evolution of salivary proteins as they evade their hosts' immune response. In this work we present a preliminary description of the sialome (from the Greek Sialo = saliva) of the common bed bug Cimex lectularius, the first such work from a member of the Cimicidae family. This manuscript is a guide for the supplemental database files and
PMCID: PMC2917537  PMID: 20441151
Bedbug; saliva; salivary transcriptome; salivary proteome
5.  Comparative sialomics between hard and soft ticks: Implications for the evolution of blood-feeding behavior 
Ticks evolved various mechanisms to modulate their host’s hemostatic and immune defenses. Differences in the anti-hemostatic repertoires suggest that hard and soft ticks evolved anti-hemostatic mechanisms independently, but raise questions on the conservation of salivary gland proteins in the ancestral tick lineage. To address this issue the sialome (salivary gland secretory proteome) from the soft tick, Argas monolakensis was determined by proteomic analysis and cDNA library construction of salivary glands from fed and unfed adult female ticks. The sialome is composed of ~130 secretory proteins, of which the most abundant protein folds are the lipocalin, BTSP, BPTI and metalloprotease families which also comprise the most abundant proteins found in the salivary glands. Comparative analysis indicates that the major protein families are conserved in hard and soft ticks. Phylogenetic analysis shows, however, that most gene duplications are lineage specific, indicating that the protein families analyzed possibly evolved most of their functions after divergence of the two major tick families. In conclusion, the ancestral tick may have possessed a simple (few members for each family), but diverse (many different protein families) salivary gland protein domain repertoire.
PMCID: PMC2211429  PMID: 18070664
Argas; blood-feeding; evolution; proteome; sialome
6.  A Deep Insight into the Sialotranscriptome of the Gulf Coast Tick, Amblyomma maculatum 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28525.
Saliva of blood sucking arthropods contains compounds that antagonize their hosts' hemostasis, which include platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction and blood clotting; saliva of these organisms also has anti-inflammatory and immunomodullatory properties. Perhaps because hosts mount an active immune response against these compounds, the diversity of these compounds is large even among related blood sucking species. Because of these properties, saliva helps blood feeding as well as help the establishment of pathogens that can be transmitted during blood feeding.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have obtained 1,626,969 reads by pyrosequencing a salivary gland cDNA library from adult females Amblyomma maculatum ticks at different times of feeding. Assembly of this data produced 72,441 sequences larger than 149 nucleotides from which 15,914 coding sequences were extracted. Of these, 5,353 had >75% coverage to their best match in the non-redundant database from the National Center for Biotechnology information, allowing for the deposition of 4,850 sequences to GenBank. The annotated data sets are available as hyperlinked spreadsheets. Putative secreted proteins were classified in 133 families, most of which have no known function.
This data set of proteins constitutes a mining platform for novel pharmacologically active proteins and for uncovering vaccine targets against A. maculatum and the diseases they carry.
PMCID: PMC3244413  PMID: 22216098
7.  An insight into the sialotranscriptome and proteome of the coarse bontlegged tick, Hyalomma marginatum rufipes 
Journal of proteomics  2011;74(12):2892-2908.
Ticks are mites specialized in acquiring blood from vertebrates as their sole source of food and are important disease vectors to humans and animals. Among the specializations required for this peculiar diet, ticks evolved a sophisticated salivary potion that can disarm their host’s hemostasis, inflammation, and immune reactions. Previous transcriptome analysis of tick salivary proteins has revealed many new protein families indicative of fast evolution, possibly due to host immune pressure. The hard ticks (family Ixodidae) are further divided into two basal groups, of which the Metastriata have 11 genera. While salivary transcriptomes and proteomes have been described for some of these genera, no tick of the genus Hyalomma has been studied so far. The analysis of 2,084 expressed sequence tags (EST) from a salivary gland cDNA library allowed an exploration of the proteome of this tick species by matching peptide ions derived from MS/MS experiments to this data set. We additionally compared these MS/MS derived peptide sequences against the proteins from the bovine host, finding many host proteins in the salivary glands of this tick. This annotated data set can assist the discovery of new targets for anti-tick vaccines as well as help to identify pharmacologically active proteins.
PMCID: PMC3215792  PMID: 21851864
Tick; hematophagy; salivary glands; sialome
8.  An Insight into the Sialome of the Black Fly, Simulium vittatum 
Journal of proteome research  2009;8(3):1474-1488.
Adaptation to vertebrate blood feeding includes development of a salivary ‘magic potion’ that can disarm host hemostasis and inflammatory reactions. Within the lower Diptera, a vertebrate blood-sucking mode evolved in the Psychodidae (sand flies), Culicidae (mosquitoes), Ceratopogonidae (biting midges), Simuliidae (black flies), and in the frog-feeding Corethrellidae. Sialotranscriptome analyses from several species of mosquitoes and sand flies and from one biting midge indicate divergence in the evolution of the blood-sucking salivary potion, manifested in the finding of many unique proteins within each insect family, and even genus. Gene duplication and divergence events are highly prevalent, possibly driven by vertebrate host immune pressure. Within this framework, we describe the sialome (from Greek sialo, saliva) of the black fly Simulium vittatum and discuss the findings within the context of the protein families found in other blood-sucking Diptera. Sequences and results of Blast searches against several protein family databases are given in Supplemental Tables S1 and S2, which can be obtained from and
PMCID: PMC2778207  PMID: 19166301
Simulium vittatum; black fly; sialotranscriptomes; salivary gland transcriptome; sialome; proteome; hematophagy; onchocerciasis
9.  An insight into the sialome of blood feeding Nematocera 
Within the Diptera and outside the suborder Brachycera, the blood feeding habit occurred at least twice, producing the present day sand flies, and the Culicomorpha, including the mosquitoes (Culicidae), black flies (Simulidae), biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) and frog feeding flies (Corethrellidae). Alternatives to this scenario are also discussed. Successful blood feeding requires adaptations to antagonize the vertebrate's mechanisms of blood clotting, platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction, pain and itching, which are triggered by tissue destruction and immune reactions to insect products. Saliva of these insects provides a complex pharmacological armamentarium to block these vertebrate reactions. With the advent of transcriptomics, the sialomes (from the Greek word sialo=saliva) of at least two species of each of these families have been studied (except for the frog feeders), allowing an insight into the diverse pathways leading to today's salivary composition within the Culicomorpha, having the sand flies as an outgroup. This review catalogs 1,288 salivary proteins in 10 generic classes comprising over 150 different protein families, most of which we have no functional knowledge. These proteins and many sequence comparisons are displayed in a hyperlinked spreadsheet that hopefully will stimulate and facilitate the task of functional characterization of these proteins, and their possible use as novel pharmacological agents and epidemiological markers of insect vector exposure.
PMCID: PMC2950210  PMID: 20728537
10.  Novel Immunomodulators from Hard Ticks Selectively Reprogramme Human Dendritic Cell Responses 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(6):e1003450.
Hard ticks subvert the immune responses of their vertebrate hosts in order to feed for much longer periods than other blood-feeding ectoparasites; this may be one reason why they transmit perhaps the greatest diversity of pathogens of any arthropod vector. Tick-induced immunomodulation is mediated by salivary components, some of which neutralise elements of innate immunity or inhibit the development of adaptive immunity. As dendritic cells (DC) trigger and help to regulate adaptive immunity, they are an ideal target for immunomodulation. However, previously described immunoactive components of tick saliva are either highly promiscuous in their cellular and molecular targets or have limited effects on DC. Here we address the question of whether the largest and globally most important group of ticks (the ixodid metastriates) produce salivary molecules that specifically modulate DC activity. We used chromatography to isolate a salivary gland protein (Japanin) from Rhipicephalus appendiculatus ticks. Japanin was cloned, and recombinant protein was produced in a baculoviral expression system. We found that Japanin specifically reprogrammes DC responses to a wide variety of stimuli in vitro, radically altering their expression of co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory transmembrane molecules (measured by flow cytometry) and their secretion of pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory and T cell polarising cytokines (assessed by Luminex multiplex assays); it also inhibits the differentiation of DC from monocytes. Sequence alignments and enzymatic deglycosylation revealed Japanin to be a 17.7 kDa, N-glycosylated lipocalin. Using molecular cloning and database searches, we have identified a group of homologous proteins in R. appendiculatus and related species, three of which we have expressed and shown to possess DC-modulatory activity. All data were obtained using DC generated from at least four human blood donors, with rigorous statistical analysis. Our results suggest a previously unknown mechanism for parasite-induced subversion of adaptive immunity, one which may also facilitate pathogen transmission.
Author Summary
Dendritic cells (DC) are specialised cells of the vertebrate immune system. DC can sense different types of infectious agents and parasites, and both trigger and help regulate the specific types of immunity needed to eliminate them. We have discovered that the largest and globally most important group of hard ticks produce a unique family of proteins in their saliva that selectively targets DC, radically altering functions that would otherwise induce robust immune responses; these proteins also prevent DC developing from precursor cells. The production of these salivary molecules may help to explain two highly unusual features of these hard ticks compared with other blood-feeding parasites: their ability to feed continuously on their vertebrate hosts for considerable lengths of time (7 days or more) without eliciting potentially damaging immune responses, and their capacity to transmit possibly the greatest variety of pathogens of any type of invertebrate.
PMCID: PMC3695081  PMID: 23825947
11.  An insight into the transcriptome and proteome of the salivary gland of the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans 
Adult stable flies are blood feeders, a nuisance, and mechanical vectors of veterinary diseases. To enable efficient feeding, blood sucking insects have evolved a sophisticated array of salivary compounds to disarm their host's hemostasis and inflammatory reaction. While the sialomes of several blood sucking Nematocera flies have been described, no thorough description has been made so far of any Brachycera, except for a detailed proteome analysis of a tabanid (Xu et al., 2008). In this work we provide an insight into the sialome of the muscid Stomoxys calcitrans, revealing a complex mixture of serine proteases, endonucleases, Kazal-containing peptides, anti-thrombins, antigen-5 related proteins, antimicrobial peptides, and the usual finding of mysterious secreted peptides that have no known partners, and may reflect the very fast evolution of salivary proteins due to the vertebrate host immune pressure. Supplemental tables S1 and S2 can be downloaded from and
PMCID: PMC2737351  PMID: 19576987
Salivary glands; stable fly; hematophagy; sialome; cDNA library; proteome
12.  Rickettsia africae in the West Indies 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(2):224-226.
Amblyomma variegatum ticks should be eradicated to prevent R. africae and African tickborne fever from being established.
Rickettsia africae is the agent of African tick-bite fever, a mild but common disease of local persons and tourists in Africa. The major vector of this spotted fever group rickettsia is most likely Amblyomma variegatum, the tropical bont tick, which has become widely distributed through the West Indies in the last 30 years. This report reviews all available information on R. africae in the West Indies.
PMCID: PMC3373090  PMID: 16494746
Rickettsia africae; West Indies; Caribbean; African tick-bite fever
13.  The sialotranscriptome of Antricola delacruzi female ticks is compatible with non-hematophagous behavior and an alternative source of food 
The hosts for Antricola delacruzi ticks are insectivorous, cave-dwelling bats on which only larvae are found. The mouthparts of nymphal and adult A. delacruzi are compatible with scavenging feeding because the hypostome is small and toothless. How a single blood meal of a larva provides energy for several molts as well as for oviposition by females is not known. Adults of A. delacruzi possibly feed upon an unknown food source in bat guano, a substrate on which nymphal and adult stages are always found. Guano produced by insectivorous bats contains twice the amount of protein and 60 times the amount of iron as beef. In addition, bacteria and chitin-rich fungi proliferate on guano. Comparative data on the transcriptome of the salivary glands of A. delacruzi is nonexistent and would help to understand the physiological adaptations of salivary glands that accompany different sources of food as well as the steps taken by the Acari towards haematophagy, believed to have evolved from scavenging dead animals. Annotation of the transcriptome of salivary glands from female instars of A. delacruzi collected on guano categorized 5.7% of the clusters of expressed genes as putative secreted proteins. They included abundantly expressed TIL domain-containing proteins (possible anti-microbials), an abundantly expressed protein similar to a serum amyloid found in the sialotranscriptomes of Ornithodoros spp., a savignygrin, a family of mucin/peritrophin/cuticle-like proteins, antimicrobials and an HIV envelope-like glycoprotein also found in soft ticks. When comparing the transcriptome of A. delacruzi with those of blood-feeding female soft and hard ticks some notable differences were observed; they consisted of the following transcripts over- or under-represented or absent in the sialotranscriptome of A. delacuzi that may reflect its source of food: ferritin, mucins with chitin-binding domains and TIL domain-containing proteins versus lipocalins, basic tail proteins, metalloproteases, glycine-rich proteins and Kunitz protease inhibitors, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3351099  PMID: 22306723
Antricola delacruzi; Hematophagy; Scavenging; Transcriptome; Salivary glands; Bat guano
14.  Distinctive amino acid composition profiles in salivary proteins of the tick Ixodes scapularis 
Ticks and tick-borne diseases  2011;2(4):219-224.
Bioinformatic analysis of the amino acid composition of proteins of the tick Ixodes scapularis showed that, in comparison to other secreted proteins, salivary proteins in general have higher frequencies of polar residues and lower frequencies of the non-polar residues leucine and valine. Computer prediction of linear B-cell epitopes showed that polar residues were associated with the presence of high-quality epitopes and that tick salivary proteins included significantly more proteins with predicted high-quality epitopes than did other secreted proteins. The results provided no evidence that salivary proteins as a whole have evolved characteristics minimizing their antigenicity to the vertebrate host. Certain salivary proteins may indeed have evolved low antigenicity, but the I. scapularis sialome include at least some apparently antigenic proteins that might be tested experimentally to determine whether they would be suitable candidates for anti-tick vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3421908  PMID: 22108016
B-cell epitope prediction; Ixodes scapularis; Salivary proteins; Secreted proteins; Sialome; Vaccine
15.  The role of cystatins in tick physiology and blood feeding 
Ticks and tick-borne diseases  2012;3(3):117-127.
Ticks, as obligate hematophagous ectoparasites, impact greatly on animal and human health because they transmit various pathogens worldwide. Over the last decade, several cystatins from different hard and soft ticks were identified and biochemically analyzed for their role in the physiology and blood feeding lifestyle of ticks. All these cystatins are potent inhibitors of papain-like cysteine proteases, but not of legumain. Tick cystatins were either detected in the salivary glands and/or the midgut, key tick organs responsible for blood digestion and the expression of pharmacologically potent salivary proteins for blood feeding. For example, the transcription of two cystatins named HlSC-1 and Sialostatin L2 was highly upregulated in these tick tissues during feeding. Vaccinating hosts against Sialostatin L2 and Om-cystatin 2 as well as silencing of a cystatin gene from Amblyomma americanum significantly inhibited the feeding ability of ticks. Additionally, Om-cystatin 2 and Sialostatin L possessed strong host immunosuppressive properties by inhibiting dendritic cell maturation due to their interaction with cathepsin S. These two cystatins, together with Sialostatin L2 are the first tick cystatins with resolved three-dimensional structure. Sialostatin L, furthermore, showed preventive properties against autoimmune diseases. In the case of the cystatin Hlcyst-2, experimental evidence showed its role in tick innate immunity, since increased Hlcyst-2 transcript levels were detected in Babesia gibsoni-infected larval ticks and the protein inhibited Babesia growth. Other cystatins, such as Hlcyst-1 or Om-cystatin 2 are assumed to be involved in regulating blood digestion. Only for Bmcystatin was a role in tick embryogenesis suggested. Finally, all the biochemically analyzed tick cystatins are powerful protease inhibitors, and some may be novel antigens for developing anti-tick vaccines and drugs of medical importance due to their stringent target specificity.
PMCID: PMC3412902  PMID: 22647711
Cystatin; Cysteine proteases; Tick; Immunomodulators; Blood feeding; Midgut; Physiology
16.  Detection of Cowdria ruminantium by means of a DNA probe, pCS20 in infected bont ticks, Amblyomma hebraeum, the major vector of heartwater in southern Africa. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1993;110(1):95-104.
A DNA probe, pCS20, previously described for use in detection of Cowdria ruminantium infections in Amblyomma variegatum (the principal vector of heartwater) hybridized with C. ruminantium DNA in organs of laboratory-infected A. hebraeum adult ticks (the major southern African vector of heartwater). The probe hybridized with C. ruminantium DNA in 46/49 midguts from male ticks and 26/29 from females, thus indicating infection. Corresponding salivary glands were less heavily infected, but infections were more numerous in glands from males. Infection in ticks was confirmed by transmission of the disease to susceptible goats. The probe did not hybridize with DNA from uninfected ticks or with DNA from a spotted fever group rickettsia commonly associated with A. hebraeum in Zimbabwe. The C. ruminantium specific pCS20 DNA probe can be applied to determine accurately the infection rates in the two major vectors of heartwater and the risk of exposure of ruminants in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC2271963  PMID: 8432329
17.  Tick Cell Lines for Study of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus and Other Arboviruses 
Continuous cell lines derived from many of the vectors of tick-borne arboviruses of medical and veterinary importance are now available. Their role as tools in arbovirus research to date is reviewed and their potential application in studies of tick cell responses to virus infection is explored, by comparison with recent progress in understanding mosquito immunity to arbovirus infection. A preliminary study of propagation of the human pathogen Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) in tick cell lines is reported; CCHFV replicated in seven cell lines derived from the ticks Hyalomma anatolicum (a known vector), Amblyomma variegatum, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, and Ixodes ricinus, but not in three cell lines derived from Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and Ornithodoros moubata. This indicates that tick cell lines can be used to study growth of CCHFV in arthropod cells and that there may be species-specific restriction in permissive CCHFV infection at the cellular level.
PMCID: PMC3438810  PMID: 21955214
Arbovirus; Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus; innate immunity; tick cell line
18.  Knockdown of Selenocysteine-Specific Elongation Factor in Amblyomma maculatum Alters the Pathogen Burden of Rickettsia parkeri with Epigenetic Control by the Sin3 Histone Deacetylase Corepressor Complex 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e82012.
Selenocysteine is the 21st naturally-occurring amino acid. Selenoproteins have diverse functions and many remain uncharacterized, but they are typically associated with antioxidant activity. The incorporation of selenocysteine into the nascent polypeptide chain recodes the TGA stop codon and this process depends upon a number of essential factors including the selenocysteine elongation factor (SEF). The transcriptional expression of SEF did not change significantly in tick midguts throughout the blood meal, but decreased in salivary glands to 20% at the end of the fast feeding phase. Since selenoprotein translation requires this specialized elongation factor, we targeted this gene for knockdown by RNAi to gain a global view of the role selenoproteins play in tick physiology. We found no significant differences in tick engorgement and embryogenesis but detected no antioxidant capacity in tick saliva. The transcriptional profile of selenoproteins in R. parkeri-infected Amblyomma maculatum revealed declined activity of selenoprotein M and catalase and increased activity of selenoprotein O, selenoprotein S, and selenoprotein T. Furthermore, the pathogen burden was significantly altered in SEF-knockdowns. We then determined the global impact of SEF-knockdown by RNA-seq, and mapped huge shifts in secretory gene expression that could be the result of downregulation of the Sin3 histone deacetylase corepressor complex.
PMCID: PMC3840058  PMID: 24282621
19.  Laboratory reared Amblyomma hebraeum and Amblyomma variegatum ticks differ in their susceptibility to infection with Cowdria ruminantium. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1995;115(2):345-353.
The susceptibility of laboratory reared Zimbabwean Amblyomma hebraeum and A. variegatum ticks to infection with geographically distinct Cowdria ruminantium strains was investigated by feeding both species simultaneously on individual sheep infected with one of the four strains (Crystal Springs [Zimbabwe], Ball 3 [South Africa], Gardel [Guadeloupe] and Nigeria [Nigeria]). A. hebraeum ticks demonstrated a high susceptibility to infection with all four C. ruminantium strains. In comparison, A. variegatum were less susceptible to infection with the Crystal Springs and Ball 3 strains (P < 0.001), but showed a similar susceptibility to the Gardel and Nigeria strains. The differences in susceptibility of A. variegatum to infection with the four strains of C. ruminantium correlated with the origin of these strains. The consistently higher susceptibility of A. hebraeum ticks to infection with geographically different C. ruminantium strains may be one explanation for the observation that heartwater is a more serious problem where A. hebraeum is the vector of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2271405  PMID: 7589273
20.  Anopheles salivary gland proteomes from major malaria vectors 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:614.
Antibody responses against Anopheles salivary proteins can indicate individual exposure to bites of malaria vectors. The extent to which these salivary proteins are species-specific is not entirely resolved. Thus, a better knowledge of the diversity among salivary protein repertoires from various malaria vector species is necessary to select relevant genus-, subgenus- and/or species-specific salivary antigens. Such antigens could be used for quantitative (mosquito density) and qualitative (mosquito species) immunological evaluation of malaria vectors/host contact. In this study, salivary gland protein repertoires (sialomes) from several Anopheles species were compared using in silico analysis and proteomics. The antigenic diversity of salivary gland proteins among different Anopheles species was also examined.
In silico analysis of secreted salivary gland protein sequences retrieved from an NCBInr database of six Anopheles species belonging to the Cellia subgenus (An. gambiae, An. arabiensis, An. stephensi and An. funestus) and Nyssorhynchus subgenus (An. albimanus and An. darlingi) displayed a higher degree of similarity compared to salivary proteins from closely related Anopheles species. Additionally, computational hierarchical clustering allowed identification of genus-, subgenus- and species-specific salivary proteins. Proteomic and immunoblot analyses performed on salivary gland extracts from four Anopheles species (An. gambiae, An. arabiensis, An. stephensi and An. albimanus) indicated that heterogeneity of the salivary proteome and antigenic proteins was lower among closely related anopheline species and increased with phylogenetic distance.
This is the first report on the diversity of the salivary protein repertoire among species from the Anopheles genus at the protein level. This work demonstrates that a molecular diversity is exhibited among salivary proteins from closely related species despite their common pharmacological activities. The involvement of these proteins as antigenic candidates for genus-, subgenus- or species-specific immunological evaluation of individual exposure to Anopheles bites is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3542285  PMID: 23148599
Anopheles; Salivary proteins; Sequence alignment; Biomarkers; Malaria vectors; Protein diversity
21.  Differential salivary gland transcript expression profile in Ixodes scapularis nymphs upon feeding or flavivirus infection 
Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases  2012;3(1):18-26.
Ixodid ticks are vectors of human diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and tick-borne encephalitis. These diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide and are transmitted to humans during tick feeding. The tick-host-pathogen interface is a complex environment where host responses are modulated by the molecules in tick saliva to enable the acquisition of a blood meal. Disruption of host responses at the site of the tick bite may also provide an advantage for pathogens to survive and replicate. Thus, the molecules in tick saliva not only aid the tick in securing a nutrient-rich blood meal, but can also enhance the transmission and acquisition of pathogens. To investigate the effect of feeding and flavivirus infection on the salivary gland transcript expression profile in ticks, a first-generation microarray was developed using ESTs from a cDNA library derived from Ixodes scapularis salivary glands. When the salivary gland transcript profile in ticks feeding over the course of 3 days was compared to that in unfed ticks, a dramatic increase in transcripts related to metabolism was observed. Specifically, 578 transcripts were up-regulated compared to 151 down-regulated transcripts in fed ticks. When specific time points post attachment were analyzed, a temporal pattern of gene expression was observed. When Langat virus-infected ticks were compared to mock-infected ticks, transcript expression changes were observed at all 3 days of feeding. Differentially regulated transcripts include putative secreted proteins, lipocalins, Kunitz domain-containing proteins, anti-microbial peptides, and transcripts of unknown function. These studies identify salivary gland transcripts that are differentially regulated during feeding or in the context of flavivirus infection in Ixodes scapularis nymphs, a medically important disease vector. Further analysis of these transcripts may identify salivary factors that affect the transmission or replication of tick-borne flaviviruses.
PMCID: PMC3275779  PMID: 22309855
Tick vector; Ixodes scapularis; Nymph; Salivary gland; Gene expression; Feeding; Flavivirus
22.  Blood feeding by the Rocky Mountain spotted fever vector, Dermacentor andersoni, induces interleukin-4 expression by cognate antigen responding CD4+ T cells 
Parasites & Vectors  2009;2:47.
Tick modulation of host defenses facilitates both blood feeding and pathogen transmission. Several tick species deviate host T cell responses toward a Th2 cytokine profile. The majority of studies of modulation of T cell cytokine expression by ticks were performed with lymphocytes from infested mice stimulated in vitro with polyclonal T cell activators. Those reports did not examine tick modulation of antigen specific responses. We report use of a transgenic T cell receptor (TCR) adoptive transfer model reactive with influenza hemagglutinin peptide (110-120) to examine CD4+ T cell intracellular cytokine responses during infestation with the metastriate tick, Dermacentor andersoni, or exposure to salivary gland extracts.
Infestation with pathogen-free D. andersoni nymphs or administration of an intradermal injection of female or male tick salivary gland extract induced significant increases of IL-4 transcripts in skin and draining lymph nodes of BALB/c mice as measured by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Furthermore, IL-10 transcripts were significantly increased in skin while IL-2 and IFN-γ transcripts were not significantly changed by tick feeding or intradermal injection of salivary gland proteins, suggesting a superimposed Th2 response. Infestation induced TCR transgenic CD4+ T cells to divide more frequently as measured by CFSE dilution, but more notably these CD4+ T cells also gained the capacity to express IL-4. Intracellular levels of IL-4 were significantly increased. A second infestation administered 14 days after a primary exposure to ticks resulted in partially reduced CFSE dilution with no change in IL-4 expression when compared to one exposure to ticks. Intradermal inoculation of salivary gland extracts from both male and female ticks also induced IL-4 expression.
This is the first report of the influence of a metastriate tick on the cytokine profile of antigen specific CD4+ T cells. Blood feeding by D. andersoni pathogen-free nymphs or intradermal injection of salivary gland extracts programs influenza hemagglutinin influenza peptide specific TCR transgenic CD4+ T cells to express IL-4.
PMCID: PMC2764639  PMID: 19814808
23.  The expression of genes coding for distinct types of glycine-rich proteins varies according to the biology of three metastriate ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Amblyomma cajennense 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:363.
Ticks secrete a cement cone composed of many salivary proteins, some of which are rich in the amino acid glycine in order to attach to their hosts' skin. Glycine-rich proteins (GRPs) are a large family of heterogeneous proteins that have different functions and features; noteworthy are their adhesive and tensile characteristics. These properties may be essential for successful attachment of the metastriate ticks to the host and the prolonged feeding necessary for engorgement. In this work, we analyzed Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) similar to GRPs from cDNA libraries constructed from salivary glands of adult female ticks representing three hard, metastriate species in order to verify if their expression correlated with biological differences such as the numbers of hosts ticks feed on during their parasitic life cycle, whether one (monoxenous parasite) or two or more (heteroxenous parasite), and the anatomy of their mouthparts, whether short (Brevirostrata) or long (Longirostrata). These ticks were the monoxenous Brevirostrata tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, a heteroxenous Brevirostrata tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, and a heteroxenous Longirostrata tick, Amblyomma cajennense. To further investigate this relationship, we conducted phylogenetic analyses using sequences of GRPs from these ticks as well as from other species of Brevirostrata and Longirostrata ticks.
cDNA libraries from salivary glands of the monoxenous tick, R. microplus, contained more contigs of glycine-rich proteins than the two representatives of heteroxenous ticks, R. sanguineus and A. cajennense (33 versus, respectively, 16 and 11). Transcripts of ESTs encoding GRPs were significantly more numerous in the salivary glands of the two Brevirostrata species when compared to the number of transcripts in the Longirostrata tick. The salivary gland libraries from Brevirostrata ticks contained numerous contigs significantly similar to silks of true spiders (17 and 8 in, respectively, R. microplus and R. sanguineus), whereas the Longirostrata tick contained only 4 contigs. The phylogenetic analyses of GRPs from various species of ticks showed that distinct clades encoding proteins with different biochemical properties are represented among species according to their biology.
We found that different species of ticks rely on different types and amounts of GRPs in order to attach and feed on their hosts. Metastriate ticks with short mouthparts express more transcripts of GRPs than a tick with long mouthparts and the tick that feeds on a single host during its life cycle contain a greater variety of these proteins than ticks that feed on several hosts.
PMCID: PMC2901319  PMID: 20529354
24.  Proteomics Approach to the Study of Cattle Tick Adaptation to White Tailed Deer 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:319812.
Cattle ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, are a serious threat to animal health and production. Some ticks feed on a single host species while others such as R. microplus infest multiple hosts. White tailed deer (WTD) play a role in the maintenance and expansion of cattle tick populations. However, cattle ticks fed on WTD show lower weight and reproductive performance when compared to ticks fed on cattle, suggesting the existence of host factors that affect tick feeding and reproduction. To elucidate these factors, a proteomics approach was used to characterize tick and host proteins in R. microplus ticks fed on cattle and WTD. The results showed that R. microplus ticks fed on cattle have overrepresented tick proteins involved in blood digestion and reproduction when compared to ticks fed on WTD, while host proteins were differentially represented in ticks fed on cattle or WTD. Although a direct connection cannot be made between differentially represented tick and host proteins, these results suggested that differentially represented host proteins together with other host factors could be associated with higher R. microplus tick feeding and reproduction observed in ticks fed on cattle.
PMCID: PMC3865695  PMID: 24364032
25.  Insight into the sialome of the castor bean tick, Ixodes ricinus 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:233.
In recent years, there have been several sialome projects revealing transcripts expressed in the salivary glands of ticks, which are important vectors of several human diseases. Here, we focused on the sialome of the European vector of Lyme disease, Ixodes ricinus.
In the attempt to describe expressed genes and their dynamics throughout the feeding period, we constructed cDNA libraries from four different feeding stages of Ixodes ricinus females: unfed, 24 hours after attachment, four (partially fed) and seven days (fully engorged) after attachment. Approximately 600 randomly selected clones from each cDNA library were sequenced and analyzed. From a total 2304 sequenced clones, 1881 sequences forming 1274 clusters underwent subsequent functional analysis using customized bioinformatics software. Clusters were sorted according to their predicted function and quantitative comparison among the four libraries was made. We found several groups of over-expressed genes associated with feeding that posses a secretion signal and may be involved in tick attachment, feeding or evading the host immune system. Many transcripts clustered into families of related genes with stage-specific expression. Comparison to Ixodes scapularis and I. pacificus transcripts was made.
In addition to a large number of homologues of the known transcripts, we obtained several novel predicted protein sequences. Our work contributes to the growing list of proteins associated with tick feeding and sheds more light on the dynamics of the gene expression during tick feeding. Additionally, our results corroborate previous evidence of gene duplication in the evolution of ticks.
PMCID: PMC2410133  PMID: 18489795

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