Identification and characterization of proteins that form the inner core Ixodes scapularis tick attachment cement layer

Albert Mulenga, Zeljko Radulovic, Lindsay Porter, Taylor Hollman Britten, Tae Kwon Kim, Lucas Tirloni, Alex Kiarie Gaithuma, Grace O. Adeniyi-Ipadeola, Jolene K. Dietrich, James J. Moresco, John R. Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ixodes scapularis long-term blood feeding behavior is facilitated by a tick secreted bio adhesive (tick cement) that attaches tick mouthparts to skin tissue and prevents the host from dislodging the attached tick. Understanding tick cement formation is highly sought after as its disruption will prevent tick feeding. This study describes proteins that form the inner core layer of I. scapularis tick cement as disrupting these proteins will likely stop formation of the outer cortical layer. The inner core cement layer completes formation by 24 h of tick attachment. Thus, we used laser-capture microdissection to isolate cement from cryosections of 6 h and 24 h tick attachment sites and to distinguish between early and late inner core cement proteins. LC–MS/MS analysis identified 138 tick cement proteins (TCPs) of which 37 and 35 were unique in cement of 6 and 24 h attached ticks respectively. We grouped TCPs in 14 functional categories: cuticular protein (16%), tick specific proteins of unknown function, cytoskeletal proteins, and enzymes (13% each), enzymes (10%), antioxidant, glycine rich, scaffolding, heat shock, histone, histamine binding, proteases and protease inhibitors, and miscellaneous (3–6% each). Gene ontology analysis confirm that TCPs are enriched for bio adhesive properties. Our data offer insights into tick cement bonding patterns and set the foundation for understanding the molecular basis of I. scapularis tick cement formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21300
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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