Understanding the dynamics of vector-pathogen-host interaction is fundamental toward development of new strategies to control vector borne diseases. A complex repertoire of pharmacologically active molecules in blood feeding arthropod saliva is responsible for modulating host hemostasis, immune defenses, pain/itch, and wound healing, which facilitates blood feeding and pathogen transmission. Genomic strategies yielded previously unobtainable insights into the nature and diversity of salivary gland molecules. Understanding the function(s) of these molecules, and how it interacts with the host immune system is vital to development of novel disease transmission control strategies. Currently, Thangamani Lab is using mosquitoes and ticks as model systems to unravel the functional role of salivary proteins and small RNAs (MicroRNAs) in potentiating arbovirus (Chikungunya virus, Zika virus, Powassan virus, Deer tick virus, Heartland virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus) establishment, which will lead to development of anti-viral strategies.
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston