[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Longicin is a defensin-like peptide, identified from the midgut epithelium of hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis. Several studies have already shown the antimicrobial and parasiticidal activities of longicin peptide and one of its synthetic partial analogs, longicin P4. In this study, longicin peptides were tested for potential antiviral activity against Langat virus (LGTV), a tick-borne flavivirus.
Longicin P1 and P4 peptides were chemically synthesized. Antiviral activity of the longicin peptides against LGTV was evaluated through in vitro virucidal assays, wherein the antiviral efficacy was determined by reduction in number of viral foci and virus yield. Additionally, longicin P4 was also tested for its activity against human adenovirus, a non-enveloped virus. Lastly, to assess the importance of longicin on the innate antiviral immunity of H. longicornis ticks, gene silencing through RNAi was performed.
Longicin P4 produced significant viral foci reduction and lower virus yield against LGTV, while longicin P1 failed to demonstrate the same results. Conversely, both longicin partial analogs (P1 and P4) did not show significant antiviral activity when tested on adenovirus. In addition, longicin-silenced ticks showed significantly higher virus titer after 7 days post-infection but a significantly lower titer was detected after an additional 14 days of observation as compared to the Luc dsRNA-injected ticks. Mortality in both groups did not show any significant difference.
Our results suggest that longicin P4 has in vitro antiviral activity against LGTV but not against a non-enveloped virus such as adenovirus. Likewise, though most cationic antimicrobial peptides like longicin act directly on target membranes, the exact mechanism of membrane targeting of longicin P4 in enveloped viruses, such as LGTV, requires further investigation. Lastly, while the in vitro virucidal capacity of longicin P4 was confirmed in this study, the role of the endogenous tick longicin in the antiviral defense of H. longicornis against LGTV still remains to be demonstrated.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2016 · Parasites & Vectors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Iron is an indispensable element for most microorganisms, including many pathogenic bacteria. Iron-withholding is a known component of the innate immunity, particularly of vertebrate hosts. Ticks are vectors of multiple pathogens and reports have shown that they naturally harbor several bacterial species. Thus, tick innate immunity must be crucial in limiting bacterial population to tolerable level that will not cause adverse effects. We have previously characterized two types of the iron-binding protein ferritin (HlFER) in the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis, known to be a vector of some protozoan parasites and rickettsiae, and showed their antioxidant function and importance in blood feeding and reproduction. Here we examined the possible role of HlFERs in tick immunity against bacterial infection. After silencing Hlfer genes, adult ticks were injected with live enhanced green fluorescence protein-expressing Escherichia coli, and then monitored for survival rate. Hemolymph that included hemocytes was collected for microscopic examination to observe cellular immune response, and for E. coli culture to determine bacterial viability after injection in the ticks. The expression of some antimicrobial peptides in whole ticks was also analyzed by RT-PCR. Hlfer-silenced ticks had a significantly lower survival rate than control ticks after E. coli injection. Greater number of bacteria inside and outside the hemocytes and higher bacterial colony counts after culture with hemolymph were also observed in Hlfer-silenced ticks. However, no difference on the expression of antimicrobial peptides was observed. These results suggest that ferritin molecules might be important in the cellular immune response of ticks to some bacteria.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Parasitology International
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: C-type lectins (CLecs) play an important role in innate immunity against invaders. In this study, a novel CLec was identified from Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks (HlCLec). HlCLec contains a signal peptide and a transmembrane region. Interestingly, HlCLec possesses three dissimilar carbohydrate recognition domains (CRDs). Each CRD contains the mutated motif of Ca(2+)-binding site 2. HlCLec mRNA was up-regulated during blood feeding, and had highest expression in the midgut and ovary. HlCLec localization was also confirmed by immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT). HlCLec was found on the cell membrane and basal lamina of midgut and ovary. In addition, the recombinant HlCLec and individual CRDs demonstrated direct binding activity to Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus; however, no growth inhibition activity was observed. Furthermore, E. coli injection after silencing of HlCLec caused drastic reduction in survival rate of ticks. These results strongly suggest the key role of HlCLec in tick innate immunity against Gram-negative bacteria.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Developmental and comparative immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Haemaphysalis longicornis is a tick known for transmitting Babesia parasites, including Babesia gibsoni, in East Asian countries. The vector tick must have strategies to control Babesia parasites, while Babesia parasites are also considered to establish an evasive mechanism from the tick's innate immunity. Due to this mutual tolerance, H. longicornis is considered to be a vector of Babesia parasites. Recent studies have shown the important roles of leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain-containing proteins in innate immunity in many living organisms. Some LRR domain-containing proteins were identified in ticks; however, their functions are still unknown. In this study, a novel LRR domain-containing protein was identified from H. longicornis (HlLRR). HlLRR contains two LRR domains, and the expression levels of mRNA and proteins were upregulated during blood feeding, particularly in the salivary glands and midgut. In addition, recombinant HlLRR (rHlLRR) demonstrated growth inhibition activity against B. gibsoni in vitro without a hemolytic effect at any concentration used. Moreover, the diameters of Babesia merozoites treated with rHlLRR were significantly larger than those of the control group. These results strongly indicate the key roles of HlLRR in the tick's innate immunity against Babesia parasites. Furthermore, HlLRR might be a potential alternative drug to treat babesiosis.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Tick control is an essential aspect of controlling the spread of tick-borne diseases affecting humans and animals, but it presently faces several challenges. Development of an anti-tick vaccine is aimed at designing cost-effective and environmentally friendly protection against ticks and tick-borne diseases as an alternative to the use of chemical acaricides. A single vaccine from the tick midgut protein Bm86 is currently available for field applications, but its efficacy is limited to only some tick species. Identification of candidate vaccine antigens that can affect multiple tick species is highly desirable. The hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis has two kinds of the iron-binding protein ferritin (HlFER), an intracellular HlFER1 and a secretory HlFER2, and RNA interference experiments showed that these are physiologically important in blood feeding and reproduction and in protection against oxidative stress. Here we investigated the potential of targeting HlFERs for tick control by immunizing the host with recombinant HlFERs (rHlFER1 and rHlFER2).Methods
Rabbits were immunized with rHlFERs three times subcutaneously at two-week intervals. Antisera were collected before the first immunization and a week after each immunization to confirm the antigen-specific serum antibody titer by serum ELISA. Two weeks after the final immunization, the rabbits were challenged with tick infestation. After dropping, tick feeding and reproduction parameters were evaluated to determine vaccine efficacy. To demonstrate the effects of antibodies, oxidative stress was detected in the eggs and larvae.ResultsThe antibody titer of rHlFER-immunized rabbits greatly increased after the second immunization. Antibodies exhibited cross-reactivity with rHlFERs and reacted with tick native HlFERs in Western blot analysis. Significantly lower bodyweight was observed in the ticks infested from the rHlFER2-immunized rabbit compared to those from the control rabbit. Reduced oviposition and hatching rate were observed in both rHlFER-immunized groups. rHlFER2 showed a higher vaccine efficacy. The antibodies against rHlFERs were detected in the eggs, and higher levels of oxidative stress biomarkers in the eggs and larvae, of ticks from rHlFER vaccinated rabbits.Conclusion
Collectively, these results showed that HlFER2 has a good potential as an anti-tick vaccine antigen that may affect multiple tick species.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Parasites & Vectors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previously, we characterized an undocumented strain of Eimeria krijgsmanni by morphological and biological features. Here, we present a detailed molecular phylogenetic analysis of this organism. Namely, 18S ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) sequences of E. krijgsmanni were analyzed to incorporate this species into a comprehensive Eimeria phylogeny. As a result, partial 18S rDNA sequence from E. krijgsmanni was successfully determined, and two different types, Type A and Type B, that differed by 1 base pair were identified. E. krijgsmanni was originally isolated from a single oocyst, and thus the result show that the two types might have allelic sequence heterogeneity in the 18S rDNA. Based on phylogenetic analyses, the two types of E. krijgsmanni 18S rDNA formed one of two clades among murine Eimeria spp.; these Eimeria clades reflected morphological similarity among the Eimeria spp. This is the third molecular phylogenetic characterization of a murine Eimeria spp. in addition to E. falciformis and E. papillata.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Parasitology International
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ticks are obligate hematophagous parasites that have successfully developed counteractive means against their hosts' immune and hemostatic mechanisms, but their ability to cope with potentially toxic molecules in the blood remains unclear. Iron is important in various physiological processes but can be toxic to living cells when in excess. We previously reported that the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis has an intracellular (HlFER1) and a secretory (HlFER2) ferritin, and both are crucial in successful blood feeding and reproduction. Ferritin gene silencing by RNA interference caused reduced feeding capacity, low body weight and high mortality after blood meal, decreased fecundity and morphological abnormalities in the midgut cells. Similar findings were also previously reported after silencing of ferritin genes in another hard tick, Ixodes ricinus. Here we demonstrated the role of ferritin in protecting the hard ticks from oxidative stress. Evaluation of oxidative stress in Hlfer-silenced ticks was performed after blood feeding or injection of ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) through detection of the lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehyde (MDA) and protein oxidation product, protein carbonyl. FAC injection in Hlfer-silenced ticks resulted in high mortality. Higher levels of MDA and protein carbonyl were detected in Hlfer-silenced ticks compared to Luciferase-injected (control) ticks both after blood feeding and FAC injection. Ferric iron accumulation demonstrated by increased staining on native HlFER was observed from 72 h after iron injection in both the whole tick and the midgut. Furthermore, weak iron staining was observed after Hlfer knockdown. Taken together, these results show that tick ferritins are crucial antioxidant molecules that protect the hard tick from iron-mediated oxidative stress during blood feeding.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ticks are obligate hematophagous arthropods with unique life cycles characterized by relatively short feeding periods and long non-feeding periods. They ambush a suitable host animal while staying in a pasture without any food source for up to several months. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying their exceptional viability, we focused on autophagy, a proteolysis system via the lysosomes that is induced by starvation in eukaryotes. We hypothesized that starved conditions facilitate autophagy during host-seeking periods in the life cycle of the tick. To date, homologues of five autophagy-related (ATG) genes, ATG3, ATG4, ATG6, ATG8, and ATG12, have been identified from the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis. We showed previously that the mRNA levels of H. longicornis ATG (HlATG) genes were higher during the non-feeding period than the feeding period in the nymphal to adult stages. In addition, the expressions of HlATG3, HlATG4, HlATG8 and HlATG12 were highest in the egg compared to the other developmental stages in the same tick. In the present study, we used real-time polymerase chain reaction to examine the expression profiles of HlATG genes in the embryonic stage, larval to nymphal stages, and in internal organs of female ticks. We found that the HlATG genes were expressed at the highest levels in developing eggs on day 0 after oviposition. The levels of HlATG4 and HlATG8 were higher during the non-feeding period than the feeding period in the larval to nymphal stages. In the adults, the unfed condition appeared to be associated with the increased expression of HlATG genes in the fat body and midgut, which are nutrient storage organs; however, the expression patterns of HlATG genes varied in other organs. These results suggest that an up-regulation of HlATG genes is not always induced in different organs of unfed female ticks. Taken together, our findings raise the new possibility that HlATG genes play distinct biological roles in eggs, unfed ticks, engorged ticks (metamorphosis), and in each organ.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Veterinary Parasitology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Haemaphysalis longicornis is known as one of the most important ticks transmitting Babesia parasites in East Asian countries, including Babesia ovata and Babesia gibsoni, as well as Theileria parasites. H. longicornis is not the natural vector of Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina. Vector ticks and transmitted parasites are thought to have established unique host-parasite interaction for their survival, meaning that vector ticks may have defensive molecules for the growth control of parasites in their bodies. However, the precise adaptation mechanism of tick-Babesia parasites is still unknown. Recently, cyclophilin A (CyPA) was reported to be important for the development of Babesia parasites in ticks. To reveal a part of their adaptation mechanism, the current study was conducted. An injection of B. bovis-infected RBCs into adult female H. longicornis ticks was found to upregulate the expression profiles of the gene and protein of CyPA in H. longicornis (HlCyPA). In addition, recombinant HlCyPA (rHlCyPA) purified from Escherichia coli exhibited significant inhibitory growth effects on B. bovis and B. bigemina cultivated in vitro, without any hemolytic effect on bovine RBCs at all concentrations used. In conclusion, our results suggest that HlCyPA might play an important role in the growth regulation of Babesia parasites in H. longicornis ticks, during natural acquisition from an infected host. Furthermore, rHlCyPA may be a potential alternative chemotherapeutic agent against babesiosis.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ticks are obligate hematophagous parasites and important vectors of diseases. The large amount of blood they consume contains great quantities of iron, an essential but also toxic element. The function of ferritin, an iron storage protein, and iron metabolism in ticks need to be further elucidated. Here, we investigated the function a newly identified secreted ferritin from the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis (HlFER2), together with the previously identified intracellular ferritin (HlFER1). Recombinant ferritins, expressed in Escherichia coli, were used for anti-serum preparation and also assayed for iron-binding activity. RT-PCR and Western blot analyses of different organs and developmental stages of the tick during blood feeding were performed. The localization of ferritins in different organs was demonstrated through an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test. RNA interference (RNAi) was performed to evaluate the importance of ferritin on blood feeding and reproduction of ticks. The midgut was also examined after RNAi using light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). RT-PCR showed differences in gene expression in some organs and developmental stages. Interestingly, only HlFER2 was detected in the ovary during oviposition and in egg despite the low mRNA transcript. RNAi induced reduced post-blood meal body weight, high mortality, and decreased fecundity. The expression of vitellogenin genes were affected by silencing of ferritin. Abnormalities in digestive cells, including disrupted microvilli, and alteration of digestive activity were also observed. Taken altogether, our results showed that the iron storage and protective functions of ferritin are critical to successful blood feeding and reproduction of H. longicornis.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Journal of Experimental Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transferrin is known to be an iron transporter in vertebrates and several arthropods. Iron from host blood is essential for ovarian development in blood-sucking arthropods. However, tick transferrin has been identified in only a few species, and its function has yet to be elucidated, resulting in incomplete understanding of iron metabolism in ticks. Here, we investigated the transfer of host-derived transferrin in the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis using immunological methods. Western blot showed that host-derived transferrin was maintained in all developmental stages of ticks up to 28 days after engorgement and was detected in the midgut and the ovary of adult females following blood feeding. However, no host-derived transferrin was detected in eggs after laying or in larvae after hatching, indicating that host-derived transferrin is not transferred to offspring transovarially. Indirect immunofluorescent antibody testing showed the localization of host-derived transferrin in digestive cells of the midgut and oocytes of the ovary from engorged adult females. These results suggest that host-derived transferrin is transferred to the ovary through the midgut and the hemolymph, and raise the possibility of the function of host-derived transferrin as an iron source in the ovary, providing additional insight on iron metabolism in ticks.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Babesiosis is one of the most important tick-borne diseases affecting livestock that can cause major economic losses worldwide particularly in the tropics. Control relies on controlling both the protozoan parasite and the tick vector. Antiprotozoal drugs are most commonly used for treatment, but problems on emergence of resistant strains and food residues are encountered. Longicin, a defensin-like peptide identified from the hard tick, Haemapysalis longicornis, as well as one of its synthetic partial analogs (P4), were previously reported to exert antimicrobial, fungicidal, and parasiticidal activity. Both longicin and P4 showed babesiacidal activity, in vitro and in vivo. Here, peptide fragments of P4 were studied for in vitro activity against bovine Babesia parasites. One of the peptide fragments, antimicrobial peptide 1 (AMP1), reduced the parasitemia of Babesia bigemina. No peptide had significant effect on Babesia bovis. The sequence of AMP1 corresponded to the longicin sequence which is associated with antiparasitic activity. Although AMP1 caused reduction in parasitemia of B. bigemina, the difference in morphology of the parasite compared with the control group was not statistically significant. However, the percentage occurrence of piroplasms decreased, whereas the abnormal pycnotic form increased. The results demonstrated that this shorter peptide retained the anti-babesial activity of the parent peptide, exerting an antiparasitic effect against a bovine Babesia species. Therefore, this short peptide can be considered for chemical synthesis as an alternative therapeutic agent for babesiosis.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Tropical Animal Health and Production
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Haemaphysalis longicornis longicin P4 peptide is an active part peptide produced by longicin which displays bactericidal activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and other microorganisms. In the present study, the effect of the longicin P4 peptide on the infectivity of Toxoplasma gondii parasites was examined in vitro. Tachyzoites of T. gondii incubated with longicin P4 had induced aggregation and lost the trypan blue dye exclusion activity and the invasion ability into the mouse embryonal cell line (NIH/3T3). Longicin P4 bound to T. gondii tachyzoites, as demonstrated by fluoresce microscopic analysis. An electron microscopic analysis and a fluorescence propidium iodide exclusion assay of tachyzoites exposed to longicin P4 revealed pore formation in the cellular membrane, membrane disorganization, and hollowing as well as cytoplasmic vacuolization. The number of tachyzoites proliferated in mouse macrophage cell line (J774A.1) was significantly decreased by incubation with longicin P4. These findings suggested that longicin P4 conceivably impaired parasite membranes, leading to the destruction of Toxoplasma parasites in J774A.1 cells. Thus, longicin P4 is an interesting candidate for antitoxoplasmosis drug design that causes severe toxicity to T. gondii and plays an important role in reducing cellular infection. This is the first report showing that longicin P4 causes aggregation and membrane injury of parasites, leading to Toxoplasma tachyzoite destruction.