Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Hameeda Sultana

Committee Member

Chris Osgood

Committee Member

Girish Neelakanta

Committee Member

Loree Heller


Anaplasma phagocytophilum is an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes disease in humans and animals. It is the causative agent for human anaplasmosis. A. phagocytophilum uses certain strategies to infect both vertebrates and invertebrates. It uses Ixodes scapularis ticks as a vector for spreading infection to other mammal species. This bacterium has a specific path for infection through the salivary glands of its vector host. It also suppresses certain functions such as the inhibition of apoptosis and ROS production in order to increase its survival in ticks. Src kinase, a non-receptor protein-tyrosine kinase, is a major player in cell signaling. Src kinase has an impact on the spread and survival of A. phagocytophilum in ticks. Studies on Src kinase in I. scapularis show that there is a downregulation of Src in unfed ticks and an upregulation after tick feeding. These results show that Src kinase is manipulated differentially by this bacterium for its survival in the vector host and during transmission from vertebrate host to ticks. Furthermore, RNAi-mediated interference of arthropod src kinase gene expression or inhibition of Src kinase activity by inhibitor treatment resulted in dramatic reduction in bacterial loads in ticks and tick cells. Collectively, the findings from this study show that Src kinase plays a major role in tick-A. phagocytophilum interactions. Understanding the role of Src kinase in tick-A. phagocytophilum interactions could lead to identification of vaccine targets that eventually could lead to preventing the spread of this disease.


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