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Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes ricinus tick cell lines respond to infection with tick-borne encephalitis virus: transcriptomic and proteomic analysis

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    Rights statement: © 2015 Weisheit et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2015


BACKGROUND: Ixodid ticks are important vectors of a wide variety of viral, bacterial and protozoan pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. Although several studies have elucidated tick responses to bacteria, little is known about the tick response to viruses. To gain insight into the response of tick cells to flavivirus infection, the transcriptomes and proteomes of two Ixodes spp cell lines infected with the flavivirus tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) were analysed.

METHODS: RNA and proteins were isolated from the Ixodes scapularis-derived cell line IDE8 and the Ixodes ricinus-derived cell line IRE/CTVM19, mock-infected or infected with TBEV, on day 2 post-infection (p.i.) when virus production was increasing, and on day 6 p.i. when virus production was decreasing. RNA-Seq and mass spectrometric technologies were used to identify changes in abundance of, respectively, transcripts and proteins. Functional analyses were conducted on selected transcripts using RNA interference (RNAi) for gene knockdown in tick cells infected with the closely-related but less pathogenic flavivirus Langat virus (LGTV).

RESULTS: Differential expression analysis using DESeq resulted in totals of 43 and 83 statistically significantly differentially-expressed transcripts in IDE8 and IRE/CTVM19 cells, respectively. Mass spectrometry detected 76 and 129 statistically significantly differentially-represented proteins in IDE8 and IRE/CTVM19 cells, respectively. Differentially-expressed transcripts and differentially-represented proteins included some that may be involved in innate immune and cell stress responses. Knockdown of the heat-shock proteins HSP90, HSP70 and gp96, the complement-associated protein Factor H and the protease trypsin resulted in increased LGTV replication and production in at least one tick cell line, indicating a possible antiviral role for these proteins. Knockdown of RNAi-associated proteins Argonaute and Dicer, which were included as positive controls, also resulted in increased LGTV replication and production in both cell lines, confirming their role in the antiviral RNAi pathway.

CONCLUSIONS: This systems biology approach identified several molecules that may be involved in the tick cell innate immune response against flaviviruses and highlighted that ticks, in common with other invertebrate species, have other antiviral responses in addition to RNAi.

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