Molecular and expression analysis of a family of the Amblyomma americanum tick Lospins. Academic Article uri icon


  • Serine proteinase inhibitors (serpins) are a family of structurally similar but functionally diverse proteins that regulate several important proteolytic cascades in most branches of life. We have characterized 17 Amblyomma americanum serpin cDNAs here named as ;Lospins' (L; an acronym for Lone Star tick serpin) that possess three beta-sheets, eight alpha-helices and a reactive center loop consistent with the consensus serpin superfamily secondary structures. Visual inspection of deduced amino acid sequences revealed two patterns of basic residues: (i) (86)DKSRVLKAYKRL(97) in L5 and L13-16 and (ii) (158)VRDKTRGKI(166) in all Lospins, which are similar to consensus glycosaminoglycan (GAG) binding sites (XBnXmBX, where X and B are non-basic and basic residues, n=1 or 2 and m=1, 2 or 3). On three-dimensional models, the two putative GAG binding sites mapped onto alpha-helices D and F, respectively, with calculation of electrostatic surface potentials revealing basic patches on L5 and L13-16 models that are comparable to the heparin-binding site on antithrombin. RT-PCR expression analysis of 15 selected genes showed that the majority (11/15) of the Lospins were ubiquitously expressed in the midgut, ovary and salivary glands. On a neighbor-joining phylogeny guide tree, 15 serpins from other ticks and 17 Lospins from this study, a total of 32 tick serpin sequences, segregated into five groups with Lospins in groups A and D being conserved across tick species. The discovery of Lospins in this study sets the framework for future studies to understand the role of serpins in tick physiology.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Mulenga, A., Khumthong, R., & Blandon, M. A.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Mulenga, Albert||Khumthong, Rabuesak||Blandon, Maria A

publication date

  • September 2007