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Salp15, a 15-kDa tick salivary gland protein, is known for several suppressive activities against host immunity and critical functions for the transmission of
Lyme borrelia in Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes ricinus, the major vectors found in North America and Western Europe. Salp15 inhibits the activation of cluster of differentiation (CD)4(+)T-cells through the repression of T-cell receptor (TCR)-triggered calcium fluxes and interleukin (IL)-2 production. Furthermore, Salp15 adheres to the spirochaeta and specifically interacts with its outer surface protein C. The binding of Salp15 to Borrelia burgdorferi protects it from antibody-mediated killing in vitro. The aim of this study is to identify the Salp15 genes in Ixodes persulcatus Schulze, the specific vector for human
Lyme borreliosis in Japan. Two cDNA clones encoding the Salp15-like sequence were obtained from salivary glands of fed female ticks. These genes encode 135- and 132-amino acid proteins, designated Salp15 Iper-1 and Salp15 Iper-2, respectively, both having signal peptide sequences and predicted to be secretory proteins. Salp15 Iper-1 and -2 showed 51.8 and 68.2% similarity to I. scapularis Salp15, respectively. Reverse transcriptase PCR analysis showed that Salp15 Iper genes were expressed specifically in the salivary glands throughout life cycle stages of the ticks and were up-regulated by blood feeding. In the I. persulcatus-derived sequences, the C-terminal part, which is the binding domain to the CD4 molecule of T-cells in I. scapularis Salp15, was well conserved. In the future, it will be necessary to analyse immunosuppressive functions of I. persulcatus Salp15 and their interaction with Borrelia spp. in Japan.