Amblyomma americanum tick calreticulin binds C1q but does not inhibit activation of the classical complement cascade. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study we characterized Amblyomma americanum (Aam) tick calreticulin (CRT) homolog in tick feeding physiology. In nature, different tick species can be found feeding on the same animal host. This suggests that different tick species found feeding on the same host can modulate the same host anti-tick defense pathways to successfully feed. From this perspective it's plausible that different tick species can utilize universally conserved proteins such as CRT to regulate and facilitate feeding. CRT is a multi-functional protein found in most taxa that is injected into the vertebrate host during tick feeding. Apart from it's current use as a biomarker for human tick bites, role(s) of this protein in tick feeding physiology have not been elucidated. Here we show that annotated functional CRT amino acid motifs are well conserved in tick CRT. However our data show that despite high amino acid identity levels to functionally characterized CRT homologs in other organisms, AamCRT is apparently functionally different. Pichia pastoris expressed recombinant (r) AamCRT bound C1q, the first component of the classical complement system, but it did not inhibit activation of this pathway. This contrast with reports of other parasite CRT that inhibited activation of the classical complement pathway through sequestration of C1q. Furthermore rAamCRT did not bind factor Xa in contrast to reports of parasite CRT binding factor Xa, an important protease in the blood clotting system. Consistent with this observation, rAamCRT did not affect plasma clotting or platelet aggregation. We discuss our findings in the context of tick feeding physiology.

published proceedings

  • Ticks Tick Borne Dis

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, T. K., Ibelli, A., & Mulenga, A.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Tae Kwon||Ibelli, Adriana Mércia Guaratini||Mulenga, Albert

publication date

  • February 2015