Salp15, a 15-kDa tick salivary gland protein, is both essential for ticks to successfully obtain host blood and also facilitates transmission of
Lyme borreliosis. To determine whether the Salp15 gene is expressed in Ixodes persulcatus and Ixodes sinensis, principle vectors of
Lyme borreliosis in China, we studied transcriptions of this gene in semi-engorged larvae, nymph and adults of these two species. A total of eight Salp15 homologues, five in I. persulcatus and three in I. sinensis, were identified by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Interestingly, the intra-species similarity of Salp15 is approximately equal to its interspecies similarity and more than one Salp15 protein is expressed in a certain tick developmental stage. Comparison of DNA and proteins with other available tick Salp15 homologues suggests that the Salp15 superfamily is genetically conserved and diverse in the Ixodes ricinus complex. These findings indicate that Salp15 proteins in the I. ricinus complex may play an essential role in interacting with the host immune system and transmission of Borrelia genospecies.