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Biochemistry. 2017 Feb 21;56(7):907-918. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00870. Epub 2017 Feb 8.

Arthropod Innate Immune Systems and Vector-Borne Diseases.

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Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale University , New Haven, Connecticut 06511, United States.


Arthropods, especially ticks and mosquitoes, are the vectors for a number of parasitic and viral human diseases, including malaria, sleeping sickness, Dengue, and Zika, yet arthropods show tremendous individual variation in their capacity to transmit disease. A key factor in this capacity is the group of genetically encoded immune factors that counteract infection by the pathogen. Arthropod-specific pattern recognition receptors and protease cascades detect and respond to infection. Proteins such as antimicrobial peptides, thioester-containing proteins, and transglutaminases effect responses such as lysis, phagocytosis, melanization, and agglutination. Effector responses are initiated by damage signals such as reactive oxygen species signaling from epithelial cells and recognized by cell surface receptors on hemocytes. Antiviral immunity is primarily mediated by siRNA pathways but coupled with interferon-like signaling, antimicrobial peptides, and thioester-containing proteins. Molecular mechanisms of immunity are closely linked to related traits of longevity and fertility, and arthropods have the capacity for innate immunological memory. Advances in understanding vector immunity can be leveraged to develop novel control strategies for reducing the rate of transmission of both ancient and emerging threats to global health.

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