Blood Digestion by Trypsin-Like Serine Protease in the Lyme Disease Vector Tick, Ixodes Scapularis
Ixodes scapularis is the major vector of Lyme disease in the eastern United States. This species undergoes a life cycle consisting of eggs and three active stages: larva, nymph, and adult. Each active life stage takes a blood meal either for developing and molting to the next stage (larvae and nymphs) or for oviposition (adult females). This protein rich blood meal is the only food taken by Ixodes ticks. Most studies on blood digestion in ticks have shown that the initial stages of blood
... ges of blood digestion are carried out by cathepsin proteases within endosomes of acidic digestive cells. However, in other hematophagous arthropods, the serine protease trypsin plays an important role in early protein degradation. In this study, we determined transcript expression of I. scapularis cathepsins and serine proteases, some with previously characterized roles in blood digestion. Gut pH was also determined and a trypsin-benzoyl-D, L-arginine 4-nitoanilide assay was used to measure active trypsin levels during blood digestion. Our data suggest that trypsin levels increase significantly after blood feeding and peaked in larvae, nymphs, and adults at 3, 1, and 1 days post host detachment, respectively. In addition, alkaline gut pH (8.0) conditions after I. scapularis blood feeding were similar to those required for trypsin activity in other arthropods suggesting these enzymes have an important and previously overlooked role in I. scapularis blood digestion.