Ixodes scapularis saliva enables the transmission of infectious agents to the mammalian host due to its immunomodulatory, anesthetic and anti-coagulant properties. However, how I. scapularis saliva influences host cytokine secretion in the presence of the obligate intracellular rickettsial pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum remains elusive.
Bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) were stimulated with pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and A. phagocytophilum. Cytokine secretion was measured in the presence and absence of I. scapularis saliva. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were also stimulated with Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α in the presence and absence of I. scapularis saliva and interleukin (IL)-8 was measured.
I. scapularis saliva inhibits inflammatory cytokine secretion by macrophages during stimulation of Toll-like (TLR) and Nod-like receptor (NLR) signaling pathways. The effect of I. scapularis saliva on immune cells is not restricted to murine macrophages because decreasing levels of interleukin (IL)-8 were observed after TNF-α stimulation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. I. scapularis saliva also mitigates pro-inflammatory cytokine response by murine macrophages during challenge with A. phagocytophilum.
These findings suggest that I. scapularis may inhibit inflammatory cytokine secretion during rickettsial transmission at the vector-host interface.
Tick; Ixodes scapularis; Saliva; Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Rickettsial agent
Ixodes scapularis ticks are hematophagous arthropods capable of transmitting many infectious agents to humans. The process of blood feeding is an extended and continuous interplay between tick and host responses. While this process has been studied extensively in vitro, no global understanding of the host response to ticks has emerged.
To address this issue, we used PCR-arrays to measure skin-specific expression of 233 discrete genes at 8 time points during primary and secondary infestations of mice with pathogen-free I. scapularis nymphs. Selected results were then validated at the mRNA and protein levels by additional real-time PCR and bioplex assay.
Primary infestation was characterized by the late induction of an innate immune response. Lectin pattern recognition receptors, cytokines, and chemokines were upregulated consistent with increased neutrophil and macrophage migration. Gene ontology and pathway analyses of downregulated genes suggested inhibition of gene transcription and Th17 immunity. During the secondary infestation, additional genes were modulated suggesting a broader involvement of immune cells including CD8 and CD4 positive T lymphocytes. The cytokine response showed a mixed Th1/Th2 profile with a potential for T regulatory cell activity. Key gene ontology clusters observed during the secondary infestation were cell migration and activation. Matrix metalloproteinases were upregulated, apoptosis-related genes were differentially modulated, and immunoreceptor signaling molecules were upregulated. In contrast, transcripts related to mitogenic, WNT, Hedgehog, and stress pathways were downregulated.
Our results support a model of tick feeding where lectin pattern recognition receptors orchestrate an innate inflammatory response during primary infestation that primes a mixed Th1/Th2 response upon secondary exposure. Tick feeding inhibits gene transcription and Th17 immunity. Salivary molecules may also inhibit upregulation of mitogenic, WNT, Hedgehog, and stress pathways and enhance the activity of T regulatory cells, production of IL-10, and suppressors of cytokine signaling molecules (SOCS). This study provides the first comprehensive transcriptional analysis of the murine host response at the I. scapularis bite site and suggests both a potential model of the host cutaneous response and candidate genes for further description and investigation.
Tick(s); Ixodes scapularis; Skin; Cutaneous response; Tick-host interface; Gene expression profiling
Tick parasitism is a major impediment for cattle production in many parts of the world. The southern cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, is an obligate hematophagous parasite of domestic and wild animals that serves as vector of infectious agents lethal to cattle. Tick saliva contains molecules evolved to modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses which facilitates blood feeding and pathogen transmission. Tick feeding promotes CD4 T cell polarization to a Th2 profile usually accompanied by down-regulation of Th1 cytokines through as yet undefined mechanisms. Co-stimulatory molecules on antigen presenting cells are central to development of T cell responses including Th1 and Th2 responses. Tick induced changes to antigen presenting cell signal transduction pathways are largely unknown. Here we document the ability of R. microplus salivary gland extracts (SGE) to effect differential CD86 expression.
We examined changes in co-stimulatory molecule expression in murine RAW 264.7 cells in response to R. microplus SGE exposure in the presence of the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) ligand, LPS. After 24 hrs, CD86, but not CD80, was preferentially up-regulated on mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 cells when treated with SGE and then LPS, but not SGE alone. CD80 and CD40 expression was increased with LPS, but the addition of SGE did not alter expression. Higher concentrations of SGE were less effective at increasing CD86 RNA expression. The addition of mitogen or extracellular kinase (MEK) inhibitor, PD98059, significantly reduced the ability for SGE to induce CD86 expression, indicating activation of MEK is necessary for SGE induced up-regulation.
Molecules in SGE of R. microplus have a concentration-dependent effect on differential up-regulation of CD86 in a macrophage cell line activated by the TLR4 ligand, LPS. This CD86 up-regulation is at least partially dependent on the ERK1/2 pathway and may serve to promote Th2 polarization of the immune response.
Real-time PCR of Amblyomma imitator tick egg masses obtained in Nuevo Leon State, Mexico, identified a Rickettsia species. Sequence analyses of 17-kD common antigen and outer membrane protein A and B gene fragments showed to it to be R. rickettsii, which suggested a potential new vector for this bacterium.
Ticks; Rickettsia rickettsii; rickettsia; Amblyomma imitator; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; ultrastructure; vector-borne infections; Mexico; dispatch
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.
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.
Saliva of blood-sucking arthropods contains a cocktail of antihemostatic agents and immunomodulators that help blood feeding. Mosquitoes additionally feed on sugar meals and have specialized regions of their glands containing glycosidases and antimicrobials that might help control bacterial growth in the ingested meals. To expand our knowledge on the salivary cocktail of Ædes ægypti, a vector of dengue and yellow fevers, we analyzed a set of 4,232 expressed sequence tags from cDNA libraries of adult female mosquitoes.
A nonredundant catalogue of 614 transcripts (573 of which are novel) is described, including 136 coding for proteins of a putative secretory nature. Additionally, a two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of salivary gland (SG) homogenates followed by tryptic digestion of selected protein bands and MS/MS analysis revealed the expression of 24 proteins. Analysis of tissue-specific transcription of a subset of these genes revealed at least 31 genes whose expression is specific or enriched in female SG, whereas 24 additional genes were expressed in female SG and in males but not in other female tissues. Most of the 55 proteins coded by these SG transcripts have no known function and represent high-priority candidates for expression and functional analysis as antihemostatic or antimicrobial agents. An unexpected finding is the occurrence of four protein families specific to SG that were probably a product of horizontal transfer from prokaryotic organisms to mosquitoes.
Overall, this paper contributes to the novel identification of 573 new transcripts, or near 3% of the Æ. ægypti proteome assuming a 20,000-protein set, and to the best-described sialome of any blood-feeding insect.
We have developed a simple and effective method (Lig-PCR) for monitoring ligation reactions using PCR and primers that are common to many cloning vectors. Ligation mixtures can directly be used as templates and the results can be analyzed by conventional gel electrophoresis. The PCR products are representative of the recombinant molecules created during ligation and the corresponding transformants. Orientation of inserts can also be determined using an internal primer. The usefulness of this method has been demonstrated using ligation mixtures of two cDNA’s derived from the salivary glands of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The method described here is sensitive and easy to perform compared to currently available methods.
Ligation; Nucleic Acids; Polymerase Chain Reaction
Persons who report frequent tick-associated itch are less likely to contract Lyme disease than those who do not.
Although residents of Lyme disease–endemic regions describe frequent exposure to ticks, Lyme disease develops in relatively few. To determine whether people who experience cutaneous hypersensitivity against tick bite have fewer episodes of Lyme disease than those who do not, we examined several factors that might restrict the incidence of Lyme disease among residents of Block Island, Rhode Island. Of 1,498 study participants, 27% (95% confidence interval [CI] 23%–31%) reported >1 tick bites, and 17% (95% CI 13%–21%) reported itch associated with tick bite in the previous year. Borrelia burgdorferi infected 23% (95% CI 20%–26%) of 135 nymphal Ixodes scapularis (I. dammini) ticks. The likelihood of Lyme disease infection decreased with >3 reports of tick-associated itch (odds ratio 0.14, 95% CI 0.94–0.03, p = 0.01). Prior exposure to uninfected vector ticks protects residents of disease-endemic sites from Lyme disease.
Lyme disease; anti-tick immune protection; hypersensitivity; research
Presently, the rhesus macaque is the only nonhuman primate animal model utilized for the study of Lyme disease. While this animal model closely mimics human disease, rhesus macaques can harbor the herpes B virus, which is often lethal to humans; macaques also do not express the full complement of immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclasses found in humans. Conversely, baboons contain the full complement of IgG subclasses and do not harbor the herpes B virus. For these reasons, baboons have been increasingly utilized as the basis for models of infectious diseases and studies assessing the safety and immunogenicity of new vaccines. Here we analyzed the capability of baboons to become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease. Combined culture and PCR analyses of tick- and syringe-infected animals indicated that baboons are a sufficient host for B. burgdorferi. Analysis of the antibody responses in infected baboons over a 48-week period revealed that antibodies are generated early during infection against many borrelial antigens, including the various OspE, OspF, and Elp paralogs that are encoded on the ubiquitous 32-kb circular plasmids (cp32s). By using the baboon sera generated by experimental infection it was determined that a combination of two cp32-encoded lipoproteins, OspE and ElpB1, resulted in highly specific and sensitive detection of B. burgdorferi infection. An expanded analysis, which included 39 different human Lyme disease patients, revealed that a combination of the OspE and ElpB1 lipoproteins could be the basis for a new serodiagnostic assay for Lyme disease. Importantly, this novel serodiagnostic test would be useful independent of prior OspA vaccination status.
A new strain of Babesia microti (KR-1) was isolated from a Connecticut resident with babesiosis by hamster inoculation and adapted to C3H/HeJ and BALB/c mice. To examine the relative importance of humoral and cellular immunity for the control of B. microti infection, we compared the course of disease in wild-type BALB/c mice with that in BALB/c SCID mice, JHD-null (B-cell-deficient) mice, and T-cell receptor αβ (TCRβ−/−) or gamma interferon (IFN-γ) (IFN-γ−/−) knockout mice following inoculation with the KR-1-strain. SCID mice and TCRαβ knockouts sustained a severe but nonlethal parasitemia averaging 35 to 45% infected erythrocytes. IFN-γ-deficient mice developed a less severe parasitemia but were able to clear the infection. In contrast, in six of eight JHD-null mice, the levels of parasitemia were indistinguishable from those in the wild-type animals. These data indicate that cellular immunity is critical for the clearance of B. microti in BALB/c mice but that disease resolution can occur even in the absence of IFN-γ.
Borrelia burgdorferi differentially expresses many of the OspE/F/Elp paralogs during tick feeding. These findings, combined with the recent report that stable B. burgdorferi infection of mammals occurs only after 53 h of tick attachment, prompted us to further analyze the expression of the OspE/F/Elp paralogs during this critical period of transmission. Indirect immunofluorescence analysis revealed that OspE, p21, ElpB1, ElpB2, and OspF/BbK2.11 are expressed in the salivary glands of ticks allowed to feed on mice for 53 to 58 h. Interestingly, many of the spirochetes in the salivary glands that expressed abundant amounts of these antigens were negative for OspA and OspC. Although prior reports have indicated that OspE/F/Elp orthologs are surface exposed, none of the individual lipoproteins or combinations of the lipoproteins protected mice from challenge infections. To examine why these apparently surface-exposed lipoproteins were not protective, we analyzed their genetic stability during infection and their cellular locations after cultivation in vitro and within dialysis membrane chambers, mimicking a mammalian host-adapted state. Combined restriction fragment length polymorphism and nucleotide sequence analyses revealed that the genes encoding these lipoproteins are stable for at least 8 months postinfection. Interestingly, cellular localization experiments revealed that while all of these proteins can be surface localized, there were significant populations of spirochetes that expressed these lipoproteins only in the periplasm. Furthermore, host-specific signals were found to alter the expression patterns and final cellular location of these lipoproteins. The combined data revealed a remarkable heterogeneity in populations of B. burgdorferi during tick transmission and mammalian infection. The diversity is generated not only by temporal changes in antigen expression but also by modulation of the surface lipoproteins during infection. The ability to regulate the temporal and spatial expression patterns of lipoproteins throughout infection likely contributes to persistent infection of mammals by B. burgdorferi.
In previous studies we have characterized the cp32/18 loci in Borrelia burgdorferi 297 which encode OspE and OspF orthologs and a third group of lipoproteins which possess OspE/F-like leader peptides (Elps). To further these studies, we have comprehensively analyzed their patterns of expression throughout the borrelial enzootic cycle. Serial dilution reverse transcription-PCR analysis indicated that although a shift in temperature from 23 to 37°C induced transcription for all nine genes analyzed, this effect was often markedly enhanced in mammalian host-adapted organisms cultivated within dialysis membrane chambers (DMCs) implanted within the peritoneal cavities of rats. Indirect immunofluorescence assays performed on temperature-shifted, in vitro-cultivated spirochetes and organisms in the midguts of unfed and fed ticks revealed distinct expression profiles for many of the OspE-related, OspF-related, and Elp proteins. Other than BbK2.10 and ElpA1, all were expressed by temperature-shifted organisms, while only OspE, ElpB1, OspF, and BbK2.11 were expressed in the midguts of fed ticks. Additionally, although mRNA was detected for all nine lipoprotein-encoding genes, two of these proteins (BbK2.10 and ElpA1) were not expressed by spirochetes cultivated in vitro, within DMCs, or by spirochetes within tick midguts. However, the observation that B. burgdorferi-infected mice generated specific antibodies against BbK2.10 and ElpA1 indicated that these antigens are expressed only in the mammalian host and that a form of posttranscriptional regulation is involved. Analysis of the upstream regions of these genes revealed several differences between their promoter regions, the majority of which were found in the −10 and −35 hexamers and the spacer regions between them. Also, rather than undergoing simultaneous upregulation during tick feeding, these genes and the corresponding lipoproteins appear to be subject to progressive recruitment or enhancement of expression as B. burgdorferi is transmitted from its tick vector to the mammalian host. These findings underscore the potential relevance of these molecules to the pathogenic events of early Lyme disease.
Previous studies showed that decorin-binding protein A (DbpA) of Borrelia burgdorferi was a protective immunogen in the murine model of Lyme borreliosis when mice were challenged (needle inoculated) intradermally with in vitro-cultivated spirochetes. In the present study, DbpA-immunized C3H/HeJ mice were not protected from infection when infested with Ixodes scapularis nymphs harboring virulent B. burgdorferi 297. This lack of protection correlated with the failure to detect DbpA on B. burgdorferi in ticks, suggesting that DbpA is not available as a target for bactericidal antibodies in serum when B. burgdorferi-infected ticks take their blood meal from an immunized host. The failure of DbpA immunization to protect tick-challenged mice contradicts the results of earlier needle inoculation vaccination experiments and suggests that DbpA may not be suitable as a Lyme disease vaccine.
We previously reported on the existence of a family of lipoprotein genes, designated 2.9 lipoprotein genes, encoded in at least seven versions on the circular (supercoiled) cp32 and cp18 plasmids of Borrelia burgdorferi 297. A distinguishing feature of the 2.9 lipoproteins were highly similar signal sequences but variable mature polypeptides that segregated into two antigenic classes. Further screenings of B. burgdorferi 297 genomic libraries led to the identification of three additional 2.9 lipoprotein genes, renamed herein mlp, for multicopy lipoprotein genes. Computer analyses and immunoblotting revealed that Mlp-9 segregated with the antigenic class I lipoproteins, whereas Mlp-8 and Mlp-10 were members of class II. Northern blotting showed that all three of the mlp genes were expressed when B. burgdorferi was cultivated in vitro at 34°C, although mlp-9 and mlp-10 transcripts were expressed at very low levels. Additional combined immunoblotting and comparative reverse transcription-PCR analyses performed on borreliae cultivated in vitro at 23, 34, or 37°C indicated that although Mlp-8 was substantially more abundant than Mlp-9 or Mlp-10, all three of the mlp genes were upregulated during B. burgdorferi replication at 37°C. Expression of the same three lipoproteins was further enhanced upon growth of the spirochetes within dialysis membrane chambers (DMCs) implanted intraperitoneally in rats (i.e., spirochetes in a mammalian host-adapted state), suggesting that temperature alone did not account for maximal upregulation of the mlp genes. That certain mlp genes are likely expressed during the growth of B. burgdorferi in mammalian tissues was supported by findings of antibodies against all three Mlp lipoproteins in mice after challenge with Ixodes scapularis nymphs harboring B. burgdorferi 297. The combined data suggest that as opposed to being differentially expressed in any reciprocal fashion (e.g., OspA/OspC), at least three mlp genes are simultaneously upregulated by temperature (37°C) and some other mammalian host factor(s). The findings have importance not only for understanding alternative modes of differential antigen expression by B. burgdorferi but also for assessing whether one or more of the Mlp lipoproteins represent new candidate vaccinogens for Lyme disease.
Babesia are emerging health threats to humans and animals in the United States. A collaborative effort of multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, otherwise known as the One Health concept, was taken during a research workshop held in April 2009 to identify gaps in scientific knowledge regarding babesioses. The impetus for this analysis was the increased risk for outbreaks of bovine babesiosis, also known as Texas cattle fever, associated with the re-infestation of the U.S. by cattle fever ticks.
The involvement of wildlife in the ecology of cattle fever ticks jeopardizes the ability of state and federal agencies to keep the national herd free of Texas cattle fever. Similarly, there has been a progressive increase in the number of cases of human babesiosis over the past 25 years due to an increase in the white-tailed deer population. Human babesiosis due to cattle-associated Babesia divergens and Babesia divergens-like organisms have begun to appear in residents of the United States. Research needs for human and bovine babesioses were identified and are presented herein.
The translation of this research is expected to provide veterinary and public health systems with the tools to mitigate the impact of bovine and human babesioses. However, economic, political, and social commitments are urgently required, including increased national funding for animal and human Babesia research, to prevent the re-establishment of cattle fever ticks and the increasing problem of human babesiosis in the United States.