Comparative Proteomics of Coxiella like Endosymbionts (CLEs) in the Symbiotic Organs of Rhipicephalus sanguineus Ticks

Balasubramanian Cibichakravarthy, Juan A. Oses-Prieto, Michael Ben-Yosef, Alma L. Burlingame, Timothy L. Karr*, Yuval Gottlieb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Maternally transmitted obligatory endosymbionts are found in the female gonads as well as in somatic tissue and are expected to provide missing metabolite to their hosts. These deficiencies are presumably complemented through specific symbiotic microorganisms such as Coxiella-like endosymbionts (CLEs) of Rhipicephalus ticks. CLEs are localized in specialized host tissue cells within the Malpighian tubules (Mt) and the ovaries (Ov) from which they are maternally transmitted to developing oocytes. These two organs differ in function and cell types, but the role of CLEs in these tissues is unknown. To probe possible functions of CLEs, comparative proteomics was performed between Mt and Ov of R. sanguineus ticks. Altogether, a total of 580 and 614 CLE proteins were identified in Mt and Ov, respectively. Of these, 276 CLE proteins were more abundant in Mt, of which 12 were significantly differentially abundant. In Ov, 290 CLE proteins were more abundant, of which 16 were significantly differentially abundant. Gene Ontology analysis revealed that most of the proteins enriched in Mt are related to cellular metabolic functions and stress responses, whereas in Ov, the majority were related to cell proliferation suggesting CLEs function differentially and interdependently with host requirements specific to each organ. The results suggest Mt CLEs provide essential nutrients to its host and Ov CLEs promote proliferation and vertical transmission to tick progeny. IMPORTANCE Here we compare the Coxiella-like endosymbionts (CLEs) proteomes from Malpighian tubule (Mt) and the ovaries (Ov) of the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Our results support the hypothesis that CLEs function interdependently with host requirements in each of the organs. The different functional specificity of CLE in the same host suggest that metabolic capabilities evolved according to the constrains imposed by the specific organ function and requirements. Our findings provide specific CLE protein targets that can be useful for future studies of CLE biology with a focus on tick population control.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere01673-21
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Cibichakravarthy et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.


  • Comparative proteomics
  • Gene ontology
  • Obligate blood feeders
  • Symbiosis


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