Molecular and functional characterization of vacuolar-ATPase from the American dog tick Dermacentor variabilis.
ABSTRACT: Vacuolar (V)-ATPase is a proton-translocating enzyme that acidifies cellular compartments for various functions such as receptor-mediated endocytosis, intracellular trafficking and protein degradation. Previous studies in Dermacentor variabilis chronically infected with Rickettsia montanensis have identified V-ATPase as one of the tick-derived molecules transcribed in response to rickettsial infection. To examine the role of the tick V-ATPase in tick-Rickettsia interactions, a full-length 2887-bp cDNA (2532-bp open reading frame) clone corresponding to the transcript of the V0 domain subunit a of D. variabilis V-ATPase (DvVATPaseV0a) gene encoding an 843 amino acid protein with an estimated molecular weight of ~96 kDa was isolated from D. variabilis. Amino acid sequence analysis of DvVATPaseV0a showed the highest similarity to VATPaseV0a from Ixodes scapularis. A potential N-glycosylation site and eight putative transmembrane segments were identified in the sequence. Western blot analysis of tick tissues probed with polyclonal antibody raised against recombinant DvVATPaseV0a revealed the expression of V-ATPase in the tick ovary. Transcriptional profiles of DvVATPaseV0a demonstrated a greater mRNA expression in the tick ovary, compared with the midgut and salivary glands; however, the mRNA level in each of these tick tissues remained unchanged after infection with R. montanensis for 1 h. V-ATPase inhibition bioassays resulted in a significant decrease in the ability of R. montanensis to invade tick cells in vitro, suggesting a role of V-ATPase in rickettsial infection of tick cells. Characterization of tick-derived molecules involved in rickettsial infection is essential for a thorough understanding of rickettsial transmission within tick populations and the ecology of tick-borne rickettsial diseases.
Project description:Tick-borne spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia species must be able to infect both vertebrate and arthropod host cells. The host actin-related protein 2/3 (Arp2/3) complex is important in the invasion process and actin-based motility for several intracellular bacteria, including SFG Rickettsia in Drosophila and mammalian cells. To investigate the role of the tick Arp2/3 complex in tick-Rickettsia interactions, open reading frames of all subunits of the protein including Arp2, Arp3, ARPC1, ARPC2, ARPC3, ARPC4, and ARPC5 were identified from Dermacentor variabilis. Amino acid sequence analysis showed variation (ranging from 25-88%) in percent identity compared to the corresponding subunits of the complex from Drosophila melanogaster, Mus musculus, Homo sapiens, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Potential ATP binding sites were identified in D. variabilis (Dv) Arp2 and Arp3 subunits as well as five putative WD (Trp-Asp) motifs which were observed in DvARPC1. Transcriptional profiles of all subunits of the DvArp2/3 complex revealed greater mRNA expression in both Rickettsia-infected and -uninfected ovary compared to midgut and salivary glands. In response to R. montanensis infection of the tick ovary, the mRNA level of only DvARPC4 was significantly upregulated compared to uninfected tissues. Arp2/3 complex inhibition bioassays resulted in a decrease in the ability of R. montanensis to invade tick tissues with a significant difference in the tick ovary, indicating a role for the Arp2/3 complex in rickettsial invasion of tick cells. Characterization of tick-derived molecules associated with rickettsial infection is imperative in order to better comprehend the ecology of tick-borne rickettsial diseases.
Project description:Alpha catenin is a cytoskeleton protein that acts as a regulator of actin rearrangement by forming an E-cadherin adhesion complex. In Dermacentor variabilis, a putative ?-catenin (Dv?-catenin) was previously identified as differentially regulated in ovaries of ticks chronically infected with Rickettsia montanensis. To begin characterizing the role(s) of Dv?-catenin during rickettsial infection, the full-length Dv?-catenin cDNA was cloned and analysed. Comparative sequence analysis demonstrates a 3069-bp cDNA with a 2718-bp open reading frame with a sequence similar to Ixodes scapularis?-catenin. A portion of Dv?-catenin is homologous to the vinculin-conserved domain containing a putative actin-binding region and ?-catenin-binding and -dimerization regions. Quantitative reverse-transcription PCR analysis demonstrated that Dv?-catenin is predominantly expressed in tick ovaries and is responsive to tick feeding. The tissue-specific gene expression analysis of ticks exposed to Rickettsia demonstrates that Dv?-catenin expression was significantly downregulated 12 h after exposure to R. montanensis, but not in Rickettsia amblyommii-exposed ovaries, compared with Rickettsia-unexposed ticks. Studying tick-derived molecules associated with rickettsial infection will provide a better understanding of the transmission dynamics of tick-borne rickettsial diseases.
Project description:Tick-borne spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia species are obligate intracellular bacteria capable of infecting both vertebrate and invertebrate host cells, an essential process for subsequent bacterial survival in distinct hosts. The host cell signaling molecules involved in the uptake of Rickettsia into mammalian and Drosophila cells have been identified; however, invasion into tick cells is understudied. Considering the movement of SFG Rickettsia between vertebrate and invertebrate hosts, the hypothesis is that conserved mechanisms are utilized for host cell invasion. The current study employed biochemical inhibition assays to determine the tick proteins involved in Rickettsia montanensis infection of tick-derived cells from a natural host, Dermacentor variabilis. The results revealed several tick proteins important for rickettsial invasion, including actin filaments, actin-related protein 2/3 complex, phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase, protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs), Src family PTK, focal adhesion kinase, Rho GTPase Rac1, and neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein. Delineating the molecular mechanisms of rickettsial infection is critical to a thorough understanding of rickettsial transmission in tick populations and the ecology of tick-borne rickettsial diseases.
Project description:Recent studies aimed at elucidating the rickettsia-tick interaction have discovered that the spotted fever group rickettsia Rickettsia montanensis, a relative of R. rickettsii, the etiologic agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, induces differential gene expression patterns in the ovaries of the hard tick Dermacentor variabilis. Here we describe a new defensin isoform, defensin-2, and the expression patterns of genes for three antimicrobials, defensin-1 (vsnA1), defensin-2, and lysozyme, in the midguts and fat bodies of D. variabilis ticks that were challenged with R. montanensis. Bioinformatic and phylogenetic analyses of the primary structure of defensin-2 support its role as an antimicrobial. The tissue distributions of the three antimicrobials, especially the two D. variabilis defensin isoforms, are markedly different, illustrating the immunocompetence of the many tissues that R. montanensis presumably invades once acquired by the tick. Antimicrobial gene expression patterns in R. montanensis-challenged ticks suggest that antimicrobial genes play a role during the acquisition-invasion stages in the tick.
Project description:Here we report the novel bacteriostatic function of a five-domain Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor (KPI) from the tick Dermacentor variabilis. As ticks feed, they release anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive molecules that mediate the formation of the feeding lesion on the mammalian host. A number of KPIs have been isolated and characterized from tick salivary gland extracts. Interestingly, we observe little D. variabilis KPI gene expression in the salivary gland and abundant expression in the midgut. However, our demonstration of D. variabilis KPI's anticoagulant properties indicates that D. variabilis KPI may be important for blood meal digestion in the midgut. In addition to facilitating long-term attachment and blood meal acquisition, gene expression studies of Drosophila, legumes, and ticks suggest that KPIs play some role in the response to microbial infection. Similarly, in this study, we show that challenge of D. variabilis with the spotted fever group rickettsia, Rickettsia montanensis, results in sustained D. variabilis KPI gene expression in the midgut. Furthermore, our in vitro studies show that D. variabilis KPI limits rickettsial colonization of L929 cells (mouse fibroblasts), implicating D. variabilis KPI as a bacteriostatic protein, a property that may be related to D. variabilis KPI's trypsin inhibitory capability. This work suggests that anticoagulants play some role in the midgut during feeding and that D. variabilis KPI may be involved as part of the tick's defense response to rickettsiae.
Project description:Three-hundred ninety-two adult Dermacentor variabilis were collected from six Maryland counties during the spring, summer, and fall of 2002. Infection prevalence for spotted fever group Rickettsia was 3.8%, as determined by polymerase chain reaction. Single strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis followed by sequencing indicated that all infections represented a single rickettsial taxon, Rickettsia montanensis.
Project description:The transovarial transmission of tick-borne bacterial pathogens is an important mechanism for their maintenance in natural populations and transmission, causing disease in humans and animals. The mechanism for this transmission and the possible role of tick hormones facilitating this process have never been studied. Injections of physiological levels of the tick hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), into part-fed (virgin) adult females of the American dog tick, <i>Dermacentor variabilis</i>, attached to the host caused a reduction in density of <i>Rickettsia montanensis</i> in the carcass and an increase in the ovaries compared to buffer-injected controls. This injection initiates yolk protein synthesis and uptake by the eggs but has no effect on blood feeding. <i>Francisella</i> sp. and <i>R. montanensis</i> were the predominant bacteria based on the proportionality in the carcass and ovary. The total bacteria load increased in the carcass and ovaries, and bacteria in the genus <i>Pseudomonas</i> increased in the carcass after the 20E injection. The mechanism of how the <i>Rickettsia</i> species respond to changes in tick hormonal regulation needs further investigation. Multiple possible mechanisms for the proliferation of <i>R. montanensis</i> in the ovaries are proposed.
Project description:We found that 14.3% (15/105) of Amblyomma maculatum and 3.3% (10/299) of Dermacentor variabilis ticks collected at 3 high-use military training sites in west-central Kentucky and northern Tennessee, USA, were infected with Rickettsia parkeri and Rickettsia montanensis, respectively. These findings warrant regional increased public health awareness for rickettsial pathogens and disease.
Project description:We determined the prevalence of rickettsiae in Dermacentor adults at 15 localities in Canada. Rickettsia rickettsii was not detected in any tick, whereas Rickettsia peacockii was present in 76% of Dermacentor andersoni adults and Rickettsia montanensis in 8% of Dermacentor variabilis adults. This host specificity was maintained in localities where both tick species occurred in sympatry.
Project description:The importance of tick defensins is evidenced by their expression in a wide variety of tick tissues and prevalence across many tick genera. To date, the functional and biological significance of defensin-2 as a rickettsiastatic or rickettsiacidal antimicrobial peptide has not been addressed. In a previous study, defensin-2 transcription was shown to increase in Dermacentor variabilis ticks challenged with Rickettsia montanensis. In the present study, the hypothesis that defensin-2 is functional as a rickettsiastatic and/or rickettsiacidal antimicrobial peptide is tested. We show that defensin-2 plays a role in reducing burden after acquisition of Rickettsia montanensis through capillary feeding. Moreover, defensin-2 is shown to associate with R. montanensis in vitro and in vivo, causing cytoplasmic leakiness.