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What you need to know:

Ticks and tick-borne pathogens constitute a growing burden for animal and human health worldwide. The development of effective control strategies of these medically important arthropods, along with pathogens they transmit, is currently hampered by our limited understanding of their complex interactions. Specifically, the interrelationship between pathogens, entering tick body, and tick signalling systems literally represents a 'black box'. This neglected area in tick research, along the scientific curiosity of both PI's created a base line for an establishment of the research project 'NeuroPaTick'. We believe that investigation of tick signalling system interactions with the pathogens they transfer will ultimately generate a unique research area that we have named "Neural basis of tick-pathogen interactions". The major questions we aim to address are: (i) have tick-borne pathogens the capacity to manipulate tick signaling molecules and subsequently modulate tick physiology or behavior? (ii) do the pathogen and/or the tick benefit from such modulation of tick physiology or behavior? and most importantly (iii) how can tick signaling pathways, be at the basis of devising better control strategies for ticks and subsequently the pathogens they transmit? Based on the previous research experiences of both PIs, along the variety of in-house tools established, the NeuroPaTick has the strong potential to shed a completely new light on tick-pathogen interaction research.

Où on va? Currently, we employed an in vitro tool, the Ixodes scapularis ISE6 embryonic cell line, to study the interaction of tick borne pathogen A. phagocytophilum with Ixodes neuropeptide. Our data indicates that different strtains of this pathogen selectively regulate the expression of neuropeptides in the ISE6 cell line. See publication of Mateos-Hernandez et al., 2021 in Pathogens fro more details.