Blood intake causes significant changes in ticks, triggering vital physiological processes including differential gene expression. A gene encoding Ixodes ricinus ML-domain containing protein (IrML) is one of the set of the genes that are strongly induced by blood meals. IrML belongs to the ML protein family that commonly occurs in diverse organisms and is involved in lipid binding and transport, pathogen recognition or in immune response. An IrML gene was amplified from cDNA of engorged I. ricinus females using the gene-specific primers designed on a basis of partial sequences of related genes for ML domain protein. IrML was shown to be expressed mainly in the gut, but also in salivary glands and hemolymph of all tick developmental stages. Using in situ hybridization, IrML transcripts were detected in type II and III salivary glands acini. Analysis of the predicted structure of I. ricinus ML-domain containing protein and its localization in the tick body could suggest that IrML is a secreted protein and is possibly involved in tick innate immunity.
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