A combined transcriptomic approach to identify candidates for an anti-tick vaccine blocking B. afzelii transmission

Jos J. A. Trentelman, Radek Sima, Nicolas Krezdorn, Julen Tomás-Cortázar, Diego Barriales, Katsuhisa Takumi, Joe M. Butler, Hein Sprong, Michelle J. Klouwens, Veronika Urbanova, Sazzad Mahmood, Peter Winter, Petr Kopacek, Juan Anguita, Ondrej Hajdusek, Joppe W. Hovius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle*Academicpeer-review


Ixodes ricinus is the vector for Borrelia afzelii, the predominant cause of Lyme borreliosis in Europe, whereas Ixodes scapularis is the vector for Borrelia burgdorferi in the USA. Transcription of several I. scapularis genes changes in the presence of B. burgdorferi and contributes to successful infection. To what extend B. afzelii influences gene expression in I. ricinus salivary glands is largely unknown. Therefore, we measured expression of uninfected vs. infected tick salivary gland genes during tick feeding using Massive Analysis of cDNA Ends (MACE) and RNAseq, quantifying 26.179 unique transcripts. While tick feeding was the main differentiator, B. afzelii infection significantly affected expression of hundreds of transcripts, including 465 transcripts after 24 h of tick feeding. Validation of the top-20 B. afzelii-upregulated transcripts at 24 h of tick feeding in ten biological genetic distinct replicates showed that expression varied extensively. Three transcripts could be validated, a basic tail protein, a lipocalin and an ixodegrin, and might be involved in B. afzelii transmission. However, vaccination with recombinant forms of these proteins only marginally altered B. afzelii infection in I. ricinus-challenged mice for one of the proteins. Collectively, our data show that identification of tick salivary genes upregulated in the presence of pathogens could serve to identify potential pathogen-blocking vaccine candidates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20061
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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