Effect of recombinant glutathione S-transferase as vaccine antigen against Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and Rhipicephalus sanguineus infestation

The ticks Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and Rhipicephalus sanguineus are the main vectors of Theileria parva and Babesia spp. in cattle and dogs, respectively. Due to their impact in veterinary care and industry, improved methods against R. appendiculatus and R. sanguineus parasitism are under development, including vaccines. We have previously demonstrated the induction of a cross-protective humoral response against Rhipicephalus microplus following vaccination with recombinant glutathione S-transferase from Haemaphysalis longicornis tick (rGST-Hl), suggesting that this protein could control tick infestations. In the present work, we investigated the effect of rGST-Hl vaccine against R. appendiculatus and R. sanguineus infestation in rabbits. In silico analysis revealed that GST from H. longicornis, R. appendiculatus and R. sanguineus have >80% protein sequencesimilarity, and multiple conserved antigenic sites. After the second vaccine dose, rGST-Hl-immunized rabbits showed elevated antibody levels which persisted until the end of experiment (75 and 60 days for R. appendiculatus and R. sanguineus, respectively). Western blot assays demonstrated cross-reactivity between anti-rGST-Hl antibodies and native R. appendiculatus and R. sanguineus GST extracts from ticks at different life stages. Vaccination with rGST-Hl decreased the number, weight, and fertility of engorged R. appendiculatus adults, leading to an overall vaccine efficacy of 67%. Interestingly, histological analysis of organ morphology showed damage to salivary glands and ovaries of R. appendiculatus adult females fed on vaccinated animals. In contrast, rGST-Hl vaccination did not affect R. appendiculatus nymphs, and it was ineffective against R. sanguineus across the stages of nymph and adult. Taken together, our results show the potential application of rGST-Hl as an antigen in anti-tick vaccine development, however indicating a broad difference in efficacy among tick species.