, Volume 28, Issue 1-4, pp 77-87

A Proteomics Approach to Characterizing Tick Salivary Secretions

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The saliva of ticks contains a complex mixture of bioactive molecules including proteins that modulate host responses ensuring successful feeding. The limited amount of saliva that can be obtained from ticks has hampered characterization of salivary proteins using traditional protein chemistry. Recent improvements in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics provide new tools to characterize small amounts of protein. These methods were employed to characterize salivary proteins from Amblyomma americanum and Amblyomma maculatum. Salivation was induced by injection of dopamine and theophylline. It was necessary to desalt and concentrate saliva before analysis by 2-D electrophoresis. Comparison of 1-D and 2-D gel patterns revealed that the major protein component of saliva did not appear on 2-D gels. Characterization of this protein showed that it was identical to the major protein present in the hemolymph of both tick species. Protein profiles obtained by 1-D and 2-D gel electrophoresis were similar for both tick species, however, higher concentrations of lower molecular weight proteins were present in A. maculatum. Protein analysis by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and western blot analysis showed that except for the most abundant protein with a molecular weight of 95 kDa, all of the proteins detected were of host origin. It is not known if this is an artifact of the collection method or has physiological significance. In either case, in these species of ticks, host proteins will have to be removed from saliva samples prior to 2-D analysis in order to characterize lower abundance proteins of tick origin.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.