Synthetic peptides as a novel approach for detecting antibodies against sand fly saliva

Michal Sima*, Blanka Ferencova, Tapan Bhattacharyya, Michael A. Miles, Sergey V. Litvinov, Asrat Hailu, Gad Baneth, Petr Volf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Hosts repeatedly bitten by sand flies develop antibodies against sand fly saliva and screening of these immunoglobulins can be employed to estimate the risk of Leishmania transmission, to indicate the feeding preferences of sand flies, or to evaluate the effectiveness of vector control campaigns. Previously, antibodies to sand fly saliva were detected using whole salivary gland homogenate (SGH) or recombinant proteins, both of which also have their disadvantages. This is the first study on sand flies where short peptides designed based on salivary antigens were successfully utilized for antibody screening. Methodology/Principal findings: Specific IgG was studied in hosts naturally exposed to Phlebotomus orientalis, the main vector of Leishmania donovani in East Africa. Four peptides were designed by the commercial program EpiQuest-B, based on the sequences of the two most promising salivary antigens, yellow-related protein and ParSP25-like protein. Short amino acid peptides were synthesised and modified for ELISA experiments. Specific anti-P. orientalis IgG was detected in sera of dogs, goats, and sheep from Ethiopia. The peptide OR24 P2 was shown to be suitable for antibody screening; it correlated positively with SGH and its specificity and sensitivity were comparable or even better than that of previously published recombinant proteins. Conclusions/Significance: OR24 P2, the peptide based on salivary antigen of P. orientalis, was shown to be a valuable tool for antibody screening of domestic animals naturally exposed to P. orientalis. We suggest the application of this promising methodology using species-specific short peptides to other sand fly-host combinations.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0007078
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program (OPPGH5336), by Charles University Research Centre (UNCE 204072; MS), by the Centre for research of pathogenicity and virulence of parasites (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000759; PV), and by the Czech Science Foundation (P506 17-10308S; MS, PV). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We are grateful to Aysheshm Kassahun, Carla Maia, and Jan Votypka for participating in field sample collection. We also especially thank Professor Alon Warburg for his support. We would like to thank Andrew Falconar for valuable advices on peptide sequences. We appreciate the excellent technical and administrative support from Helena Kulikova and Jana Glogarova. Sera of control domestic animals (non-exposed to sand flies) were generously provided by Prof. David Modry (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic) and Dr. Kamil Sedlak (State Veterinary Institute Prague, Czech Republic).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Sima et al.


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