Longistatin, a novel EF-hand protein from the ixodid tick Haemaphysalis longicornis, is required for acquisition of host blood-meals.
ABSTRACT Calcium and the EF-hand Ca(++)-binding proteins have been undisputedly recognised as the key players in almost all aspect of cell functions, starting from the cell's birth, during mitosis to its end with apoptosis. But in a few exceptional cases the EF-hand proteins are secreted from the cells and play their crucial roles extracellularly. Here, to our knowledge for the first time, we have identified and characterised an EF-hand Ca(++)-binding protein from the salivary glands of the ixodid tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, herein called longistatin. Longistatin possesses two EF-hand domains which conserve canonical structure and bind with Ca(++). Both the recombinant and endogenous proteins were stained with Rutheninum red. Reverse-transcription PCR data showed that longistatin-specific transcript was expressed in all life-cycle stages of H. longicornis and was up-regulated only in blood-fed ticks. Organ-specific transcription analysis revealed a salivary gland-specific expression of the gene which peaked at 96-120 h of feeding when ticks acquired full blood-meals and become engorged but its expression declined sharply as they detached and dropped off the host. Consistently, endogenous protein was localised in the salivary glands of adult ticks and in the lumen of the functional acini of the salivary glands. Furthermore, longistatin was detected in feeding lesions at the site of attachment of ticks on the host. These results suggest that longistatin is synthesised in, and is secreted from, the salivary glands and may have functional roles in the feeding process of ixodid ticks.
Article: Longistatin, a plasminogen activator, is key to the availability of blood-meals for ixodid ticks.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Ixodid ticks are notorious blood-sucking ectoparasites and are completely dependent on blood-meals from hosts. In addition to the direct severe effects on health and productivity, ixodid ticks transmit various deadly diseases to humans and animals. Unlike rapidly feeding vessel-feeder hematophagous insects, the hard ticks feed on hosts for a long time (5-10 days or more), making a large blood pool beneath the skin. Tick's salivary glands produce a vast array of bio-molecules that modulate their complex and persistent feeding processes. However, the specific molecule that functions in the development and maintenance of a blood pool is yet to be identified. Recently, we have reported on longistatin, a 17.8-kDa protein with two functional EF-hand Ca(++)-binding domains, from the salivary glands of the disease vector, Haemaphysalis longicornis, that has been shown to be linked to blood-feeding processes. Here, we show that longistatin plays vital roles in the formation of a blood pool and in the acquisition of blood-meals. Data clearly revealed that post-transcriptional silencing of the longistatin-specific gene disrupted ticks' unique ability to create a blood pool, and they consequently failed to feed and replete on blood-meals from hosts. Longistatin completely hydrolyzed α, β and γ chains of fibrinogen and delayed fibrin clot formation. Longistatin was able to bind with fibrin meshwork, and activated fibrin clot-bound plasminogen into its active form plasmin, as comparable to that of tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), and induced lysis of fibrin clot and platelet-rich thrombi. Plasminogen activation potentiality of longistatin was increased up to 4 times by soluble fibrin. Taken together, our results suggest that longistatin may exert potent functions both as a plasminogen activator and as an anticoagulant in the complex scenario of blood pool formation; the latter is critical to the feeding success and survival of ixodid ticks.PLoS Pathogens 03/2011; 7(3):e1001312. · 9.13 Impact Factor