Title page for ETD etd-06212011-152359

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Cheng, Po Hsun
Email paul_cheng3_1@hotmail.com
URN etd-06212011-152359
Document Title Biochemical and molecular characterization of putative immunoprotective molecules of the soft tick, Ornithodoros savignyi Audouin (1827)
Degree PhD
Department Biochemistry
Advisor Name Title
Prof A W H Neitz
Dr A R M Gaspar Supervisor
  • bacterial recognition
  • hemolymph proteins
  • Ornithodoros savignyi
  • immunoprotective molecules
  • antimicrobial mechanisms
Date 2011-04-07
Availability unrestricted
Most studies on innate immunity in ticks have focused on the antimicrobial peptides from hemolymph, such as defensins and lysozyme, while less is known about bacterial recognition molecules, or antimicrobial mechanisms in other tissues. The current study attempted to identify novel antimicrobial mechanisms, with a focus on bacterial recognition by hemolymph proteins and antimicrobial activity in salivary gland extracts.

Using bacteria as affinity beads, two high molecular mass molecules (Protein X and Protein Y) have been identified in tick hemolymph. These proteins are thought to interact with the bacterial surface via ionic interactions. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis followed by de novo sequencing indicated that these proteins are novel as no homologs could be identified from sequence databases.

In an attempt to clone Protein X, using a degenerate primer obtained from a de novo sequence, an unrelated hemocyte protein was identified. This protein, named savicalin, was shown to belong to the lipocalin family based on bioinformatical analysis. Transcriptional profiling indicated that savicalin is found in hemocytes, midgut and ovaries, but not in the salivary glands. To date, this is the first tick lipocalin not derived from salivary glands. Interestingly, up-regulation of its mRNA transcript in response to bacterial challenge suggests that this protein could be involved in antimicrobial activity. Up-regulation after feeding also suggests a role in the post-feeding development of the tick.

Two different approaches were used to purify the Gram-positive antibacterial activity from salivary gland extracts. The first attempt entailed a two-step separation approach. Tricine SDS-PAGE of the active fraction showed 3 components (~20, ~10 and ~7 kDa). BLAST searches using the N-terminal sequences of the latter proteins identified the ~20 kDa protein as savignin, while the other two proteins could not be matched. The second strategy included an ultrafiltration step (10 kDa cut-off) and MS-analysis of the active fraction in this case indicated the presence of various components with molecular masses ranging from 0.99 7.182 kDa, with 12 predominant components ranging from 0.99 - 4.448 kDa. Further tandem mass spectrometry analysis of the active fraction revealed the presence of three tick actin-derived fragments. This is of interest as actin fragments have been implicated in innate immunity of other invertebrates. In this study, synthetic peptides corresponding to one of the detected tick actin fragments as well as actin5C (detected in Drosophila hemolymph) were found not to inhibit the growth of Bacillus subtilis when tested up to a concentration of 100 g/ml.

It is envisaged that future studies of immunoprotective molecules of the tick, O. savignyi, may contribute to the development of novel anti-infective agents and potential targets for anti-tick vaccine design.

2010 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Cheng, PH 2010, Biochemical and molecular characterization of putative immunoprotective molecules of the soft tick, Ornithodoros savignyi Audouin (1827), PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06212011-152359/ >


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