Tissue- and time-dependent transcription in Ixodes ricinus salivary glands and midguts when blood feeding on the vertebrate host

Sci Rep. 2015 Mar 13;5:9103. doi: 10.1038/srep09103.


Ixodes ricinus is a tick that transmits the pathogens of Lyme and several arboviral diseases. Pathogens invade the tick midgut, disseminate through the hemolymph, and are transmitted to the vertebrate host via the salivary glands; subverting these processes could be used to interrupt pathogen transfer. Here, we use massive de novo sequencing to characterize the transcriptional dynamics of the salivary and midgut tissues of nymphal and adult I. ricinus at various time points after attachment on the vertebrate host. Members of a number of gene families show stage- and time-specific expression. We hypothesize that gene expression switching may be under epigenetic control and, in support of this, identify 34 candidate proteins that modify histones. I. ricinus-secreted proteins are encoded by genes that have a non-synonymous to synonymous mutation rate even greater than immune-related genes. Midgut transcriptome (mialome) analysis reveals several enzymes associated with protein, carbohydrate, and lipid digestion, transporters and channels that might be associated with nutrient uptake, and immune-related transcripts including antimicrobial peptides. This publicly available dataset supports the identification of protein and gene targets for biochemical and physiological studies that exploit the transmission lifecycle of this disease vector for preventative and therapeutic purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Ixodes / classification
  • Ixodes / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transcriptome