Salp15 is a multifunctional protein, vital to the tick in its need to obtain vertebrate host blood without stimulating a host inflammatory and immune response. The Salp15 protein from both Ixodes scapularis Say and Ixodes ricinus (L.), the principal vectors of the Lyme disease spirochete in eastern North America and Europe, respectively, have been well characterized and found to bind the murine CD4 receptor, DC-SIGN, and the OspC protein of Borrelia burgdorferi. In the current study, we characterized the full salp15 gene in Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls and Ixodes persulcatus Schulze, the principal vectors of Lyme disease spirochetes in western North America and Asia, respectively. In comparing the Salp15 protein of all four principal vector ticks of public health importance for the transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes, we find the 53 C-terminal amino acids to have a high degree of similarity. There are at least three clades in the tree of Salp15 and its homologues, probably representing a multigene family.
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Vol. 46 • No. 6