Tick-pathogen interactions and vector competence: identification of molecular drivers for tick-borne diseases

José de la Fuente, Sandra Antunes, Sarah Bonnet, Alejandro Cabezas-Cruz, Ana G. Domingos, Agustín Estrada-Peña, Nicholas Johnson, Katherine M. Kocan, Karen L. Mansfield, Ard M. Nijhof, Anna Papa, Nataliia Rudenko, Margarita Villar, Pilar Alberdi, Alessandra Torina, Nieves Ayllón, Marie Vancova, Maryna Golovchenko, Libor Grubhoffer, Santo CaracappaAnthony R. Fooks, Christian Gortazar, Ryan O.M. Rego

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

284 Citations (Scopus)
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Ticks and the pathogens they transmit constitute a growing burden for human and animal health worldwide. Vector competence is a component of vectorial capacity and depends on genetic determinants affecting the ability of a vector to transmit a pathogen. These determinants affect traits such as tick-host-pathogen and susceptibility to pathogen infection. Therefore, the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in tick-pathogen interactions that affect vector competence is essential for the identification of molecular drivers for tick-borne diseases. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of tick-pathogen molecular interactions for bacteria, viruses, and protozoa affecting human and animal health. Additionally, the impact of tick microbiome on these interactions was considered. Results show that different pathogens evolved similar strategies such as manipulation of the immune response to infect vectors and facilitate multiplication and transmission. Furthermore, some of these strategies may be used by pathogens to infect both tick and mammalian hosts. Identification of interactions that promote tick survival, spread, and pathogen transmission provides the opportunity to disrupt these interactions and lead to a reduction in tick burden and the prevalence of tick-borne diseases. Targeting some of the similar mechanisms used by the pathogens for infection and transmission by ticks may assist in development of preventative strategies against multiple tick-borne diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
Pages (from-to)114-127
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2017


  • Anaplasma
  • Babesia
  • Borrelia
  • Flavivirus
  • Immunology
  • Microbiome
  • Tick
  • Vaccine


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