In research that could mitigate the spread of Lyme disease, Kansas State University entomologists are looking for answers in tick saliva.
Yoonseong Park, associate professor of entomology at K-State, is working with Ladislav Simo, a research associate, to understand what controls the salivary gland system in black-legged ticks.
"My research program has focused on how the tick's neurological system is connected to the salivary system," Park said. "We have identified neuropeptides involved in controlling salivary gland activity."
Working in collaboration with K-State's Functional Genomics Consortium, Park and Simo have used the group's MALDI-TOF machine. Park said it is one of the most modern protein analysis machines available, and with it they have identified a number of neuropeptides for the first time. Understanding these neuropepties could help mitigate the spread of Lyme disease, Park said.
Also called deer ticks, black-legged ticks spread Lyme disease. Park said it affects between 250,000 and 350,000 people in the United States each year and also is a big problem in Europe. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted through the tick's saliva when it is feeding on a host.
A tick's meal lasts about a week, Park said. During that time, neuropeptides control the salivary gland to keep the feeding process going. That means secreting anticoagulants to make the host's blood drinkable and secreting anti-immunoglobulins that inhibit the host's ability to resist the tick. Park said that the tick's salivary system is continually adjusting these secretions as needed.
The salivary system also plays a role in helping the tick survive when a host isn't available. Park said the tick uses its salivary gland to control the suction of water out of the atmosphere.
"Eventually, our study can be a tool for disrupting the disease transmission," Park said. "We might be able to inhibit the tick's salivary secretion mechanism."
He said that his research with Simo also will help scientists who are trying to understand such mechanisms in other tick species, like the species that spreads Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Park said that his lab at K-State is one of few labs in the country studying the neuropeptides' role in the salivary system. Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of Cell and Tissue Research.
Park and Simo also are collaborating with Purdue University researchers who are sequencing the black-legged tick's genome. Park said that they have identified the genes responsible for encoding the neuropeptides.
Their research is being done with support from K-State's Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the center provides resources to junior basic researchers and clinician-scientists at K-State and across Kansas.
Park's previous research through the center involved investigating the excretion processes in Anopheles gambaie, the mosquito that spreads malaria.
Erinn Barcomb-Peterson | Newswise Science News
Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News