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Biological Sciences


Hard ticks feed for several days or weeks on their hosts. Blood feeding is assisted by tick saliva, which is injected in the host skin regularly, alternating with blood ingestion. Tick saliva contains hundreds or thousands of different peptides and other bioactive compounds that assist feeding by inhibiting their hosts’ blood clotting, platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction, as well as pain and itching. Immunomodulatory and antimicrobial peptides are also found in tick saliva. Molecular characterization of tick salivary compounds, or its sialome (from the Greek sialos = saliva), helps identification of possible antigens that might confer anti-tick immunity, as well as identifying novel pharmacologically active compounds. Amblyomma americanum is a major nuisance tick in Eastern and Southern US, being a vector of Theileria and Ehrlichia bacteria to animals and humans. Presently we report an RNA-seq study concerning the salivary glands of adult female A.americanum ticks, which involved sequencing of four libraries collected at different times of feeding. A total of 5,792 coding sequences were deduced from the transcriptome assembly, 3,139 of which were publicly deposited, expanding from the previously available 146 salivary sequences found in GenBank. A remarkable time-dependent transcript expression was found, mostly related to secretory products, supporting the idea that ticks may have several “sialomes” that are expressed at different times during feeding. The molecular nature of this sialome switching remains unknown. The hyperlinked spreadsheet containing the deduced coding sequences can be found at xlsx .

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