Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Scientific Reports




11409 (15 pages)


Ixodes scapularis ticks transmit several pathogens to humans including rickettsial bacterium, Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Here, we report that A. phagocytophilum uses tick transcriptional activator protein-1 (AP-1) as a molecular switch in the regulation of arthropod antifreeze gene, iafgp. RNAi-mediated silencing of ap-1 expression significantly affected iafgp gene expression and A. phagocytophilum burden in ticks upon acquisition from the murine host. Gel shift assays provide evidence that both the bacterium and AP-1 influences iafgp promoter and expression. The luciferase assays revealed that a region of approximately 700 bp upstream of the antifreeze gene is sufficient for AP-1 binding to promote iafgp gene expression. Furthermore, survival assays revealed that AP- 1-deficient ticks were more susceptible to cold in comparison to the mock controls. In addition, this study also indicates arthropod AP-1 as a global regulator for some of the tick genes critical for A. phagocytophilum survival in the vector. In summary, our study defines a novel mode of arthropod signaling for the survival of both rickettsial pathogen and its medically important vector in the cold.


Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not per- mitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

© The Author(s) 2018

Original Publication Citation

Khanal, S., Taank, V., Anderson, J. F., Sultana, H., & Neelakanta, G. (2018). Arthropod transcriptional activator protein-1 (AP-1) aids tick-rickettsial pathogen survival in the cold. Scientific Reports, 8, 11409. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29654-6