Hyaluronidase activity in the salivary glands of tabanid flies

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Tabanids are haematophagous insects that act as biological and mechanical vectors of various diseases, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. The saliva of these insects contains strong anticoagulant and vasodilatory activities as well as immunoregulatory peptides. Here we demonstrate pronounced hyaluronidase (hyase) activity in ten tabanid species of the genera Chrysops, Haematopota, Hybomitra and Tabanus. Compared to other haematophagous insects, the ability of tabanid hyases to hydrolyze hyaluronic acid (HA) is extremely high, for example the enzyme activity of Hybomitra muehlfeldi was found to be 32-fold higher than the salivary hyase activity of the sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi. Hyases of all ten tabanid species tested also cleaved chondroitin sulfate A, another glycosaminoglycan present in the extracellular matrix of vertebrates. The pH optimum of the enzyme activity was measured in eight tabanid species; the hyase of Haemopota pluvialis was the only one with optimum at pH 4.0, while in the other seven species the activity optimum was at 5.0. SDS PAGE zymography showed the monomeric character of the enzymes in all tabanid species tested. Under non-reducing conditions the activities were visible as single bands with estimated MW between 35 and 52 kDa. The very high hyaluronidase activity in tabanid saliva might be related to their aggressive biting behavior as well as to their high efficiency as mechanical vectors. As they are supposedly involved in the enlargement of feeding hematomas, hyases might contribute to the mechanical transmission of pathogens. Pathogens present in vector mouthparts are co-inoculated into the vertebrate host together with saliva and may benefit from increased tissue permeability and the immunomodulatory activity of the salivary hyase.




Volfova, V., Tothova, V., & Volf, P. (2016). Hyaluronidase activity in the salivary glands of tabanid flies. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 73, 38–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2016.03.007

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