Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was previously reported to be present in saliva of the southern cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Canestrini), with proposed potential functions to 1) reduce acetylcholine toxicity during rapid engorgement, 2) modulate host immune responses, and 3) to influence pathogen transmission and establishment in the host. Potential modulation of host immune responses might include participation in salivary-assisted transmission and establishment of pathogens in the host as has been reported for a number of arthropod vector-borne diseases. If the hypothesis that tick salivary AChE may alter host immune responses is correct, we reasoned that similar cholinesterase activities might be present in saliva of additional arthropod vectors. Here, we report the presence of AChE-like activity in the saliva of southern cattle ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus; the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Linnaeus); Asian tiger mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus (Skuse); sand flies, Phlebotomus papatasi (Scopoli); and biting midges, Culicoides sonorensisWirth and Jones. Salivary AChE-like activity was not detected for horn flies Haematobia irritans (L.), stable flies Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), and house flies Musca domestica L. Salivary cholinesterase (ChE) activities of arthropod vectors of disease-causing agents exhibited various Michaelis–Menten KM values that were each lower than the KM value of bovine serum AChE. A lower KM value is indicative of higher affinity for substrate and is consistent with a hypothesized role in localized depletion of host tissue acetylcholine potentially modulating host immune responses at the arthropod bite site that may favor ectoparasite blood-feeding and alter host defensive responses against pathogen transmission and establishment.
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Vol. 57 • No. 6