Tick saliva is a rich source of pharmacologically and immunologically active molecules. These salivary components are indispensable for successful blood feeding on vertebrate hosts and are believed to facilitate the transmission of tick-borne pathogens. Here we present the functional and structural characterization of Iripin-3, a protein expressed in the salivary glands of the tick Ixodes ricinus, a European vector of tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease. Belonging to the serpin superfamily of protease inhibitors, Iripin-3 strongly inhibited the proteolytic activity of serine proteases kallikrein and matriptase. In an in vitro setup, Iripin-3 was capable of modulating the adaptive immune response as evidenced by reduced survival of mouse splenocytes, impaired proliferation of CD4+ T lymphocytes, suppression of the T helper type 1 immune response, and induction of regulatory T cell differentiation. Apart from altering acquired immunity, Iripin-3 also inhibited the extrinsic blood coagulation pathway and reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated bone marrow-derived macrophages. In addition to its functional characterization, we present the crystal structure of cleaved Iripin-3 at 1.95 Å resolution. Iripin-3 proved to be a pluripotent salivary serpin with immunomodulatory and anti-hemostatic properties that could facilitate tick feeding via the suppression of host anti-tick defenses. Physiological relevance of Iripin-3 activities observed in vitro needs to be supported by appropriate in vivo experiments.
Keywords: Ixodes ricinus; X-ray crystallography; adaptive immunity; blood coagulation; inflammation; saliva; serpin; tick.
Copyright © 2021 Chlastáková, Kotál, Beránková, Kaščáková, Martins, Langhansová, Prudnikova, Ederová, Kutá Smatanová, Kotsyfakis and Chmelař.