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Characterization of Tick OATPs on Bacterial and Viral Infections

Utpal Pal and his team at the University of Maryland, College Park, published a new paper characterizing the roles of Ixodes scapularis organic anion transporting polypeptides (OATPs) in tick-rickettsial pathogen interactions.

The paper characterizes the role of these conserved molecules in ticks infected with either Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi or tick-borne Langat virus (LGTV), a pathogen closely related to tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV).

Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed no significant changes in oatps gene expression upon infection with B. burgdorferi in unfed ticks. Synchronous infection of unfed nymphal ticks with LGTV in vitro revealed no significant changes in oatps gene expression. However, expression of specific oatps was significantly downregulated upon LGTV infection of tick cells in vitro. Treatment of tick cells with OATP inhibitor significantly reduced LGTV loads, kynurenine amino transferase (kat), a gene involved in the production of tryptophan metabolite xanthurenic acid (XA), levels and expression of several oatps in tick cells. Furthermore, bioinformatics characterization of OATPs from some of the medically important vectors including ticks, mosquitoes and lice revealed the presence of several glycosylation, phosphorylation and myristoylation sites.

This study provides additional evidence on the role of arthropod OATPs in vector-intracellular pathogen interactions.

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