Tick galactosyltransferases are involved in α-Gal synthesis and play a role during Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection and Ixodes scapularis tick vector development

Tick galactosyltransferases are involved in α-Gal synthesis and play a role during Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection and Ixodes scapularis tick vector development

The carbohydrate Galα1-3Galβ1-(3)4GlcNAc-R (α-Gal) is produced in all mammals except for humans, apes and old world monkeys that lost the ability to synthetize it. Therefore, humans can produce high antibody titers against α-Gal. Anti-α-Gal IgE antibodies have been associated with tick-induced allergy (i.e. α-Gal syndrome) and anti-α-Gal IgG/IgM antibodies may be involved in protection against malaria, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. The α-Gal on tick salivary proteins plays an important role in the etiology of the α-Gal syndrome. However, whether ticks are able to produce endogenous α-Gal remains currently unknown. In this study, the Ixodes scapularis genome was searched for galactosyltransferases and three genes were identified as potentially involved in the synthesis of α-Gal. Heterologous gene expression in α-Gal-negative cells and gene knockdown in ticks confirmed that these genes were involved in α-Gal synthesis and are essential for tick feeding. Furthermore, these genes were shown to play an important role in tick-pathogen interactions. Results suggested that tick cells increased α-Gal levels in response to Anaplasma phagocytophilum to control bacterial infection. These results provided the molecular basis of endogenous α-Gal production in ticks and suggested that tick galactosyltransferases are involved in vector development, tick-pathogen interactions and possibly the etiology of α-Gal syndrome in humans.

α-Gal

Cabezas-Cruz A., Espinosa P.J., Alberdi P., Šimo L., Valdés J.J., Mateos-Hernández L., Contreras M., Villar Rayo M., and de la Fuente J. (2018). Tick galactosyltransferases are involved in α-Gal synthesis and play a role during Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection and Ixodes scapularis tick vector development. Scientific Reports 8:14224. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32664-z

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32664-z


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *