The Biological and Molecular Analysis of a Tick-Encoded Serine Protease Inhibitor (S6) and its Role in the Feeding Cycle of the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum (L) (Acari: ixodidae)
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Serine protease inhibitors (serpins) are a large superfamily of proteins that regulate critical proteolytic pathways by inhibiting serine proteases. Tick-encoded serpins are thought to play a vital role in the feeding process. To determine the relationship of Amblyomma americanum serpin 6 (S6) to tick feeding regulation, this study attempted to define the biological significance of this molecule through transcription and protein expression profiles, biochemical characterization of recombinant s6 (rS6), and the effects of in vivo post-transcriptional gene silencing on blood meal acquisition and fecundity. Transcriptional analysis revealed that S6 mRNA is ubiquitously expressed in unfed and partially fed ticks through the initial 5 days of the feeding period. S6 mRNA abundance in dissected tick organs showed a 3.7, 3.4, and 1.7- fold upregulation from 24 h to 96 h in the salivary gland (SG), midgut (MG) and the carcass (CA) remnant after removal of SG, MG respectively before downregulating at 120 h. Native S6 protein is downregulated in response to tick feeding, with correlation between transcription and protein expression profiles only consistent from the unfed to 48 h. Similarly, S6 protein expression in dissected female tick tissues is reduced as feeding progresses, with S6 being identified in SG, MG, ovary (OV), and CA from 24 h until 72 h. Biochemical characterization of S6 was not achieved, as rS6 did not form an irreversible complex when incubated with chymotrypsin or trypsin. Although complete silencing of S6 and S6/S17 mRNA was achieved, post-transcriptional gene knockdown had no effect on tick feeding efficiency or fecundity. These findings have been discussed in regards to the development of a vaccine against A. americanum and necessary future studies have been suggested for further characterization and assessment of biological significance.
Chalaire, Katelyn Cox (2010). The Biological and Molecular Analysis of a Tick-Encoded Serine Protease Inhibitor (S6) and its Role in the Feeding Cycle of the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum (L) (Acari: ixodidae). Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from