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First preliminary profile of proteins in bed bugs' saliva

Date:
July 12, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
With bed bugs reemerging as a nuisance in some parts of the country, scientists are reporting the first preliminary description of the bug's sialome -- the saliva proteins that are the secret to Cimex lectularius' ability to suck blood from its human victims and escape to bite again with risking a lethal slap. The findings could have medical applications in diagnosing bed bug bites and preventing the itch.

The saliva of bed bugs contains unique substances that could lead to vaccines to prevent allergic responses to the bugs' bite. This 2006 photograph depicts an oblique-dorsal view of a bedbug nymph, Cimex lectularius, as it was in the process of ingesting a blood meal from the arm of a "voluntary" human host.
Credit: Piotr Naskrecki, via CDC Public Health Image Library

With bed bugs reemerging as a nuisance in some parts of the country, scientists are reporting the first preliminary description of the bug's sialome -- the saliva proteins that are the secret to Cimex lectularius' ability to suck blood from its human victims and escape to bite again with risking a lethal slap. The findings, which could have medical applications in diagnosing bed bug bites and preventing the itch, appear in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

In the report, Jose Ribeiro and colleagues point out that bed bugs have made reappearances in New York City, London, and other areas, sparking increased scientific interest in the allergic responses associated with their bites. Bed bugs belong to a group of insects that feed on blood throughout their lives and have been doing so successfully for at least 250 million years. That success depends in large part on proteins in their saliva, substances that make the victim's blood vessels dilate (for a better flow of blood), inhibit clotting, and prevent immediate pain and itching that might evoke a lethal slap.

Using adult bed bugs from a government-maintained colony, the scientists removed salivary glands from male and female bugs, and analyzed the proteins to find unique enzymes that characterize the saliva profile of the bug. The substances could also offer insight into how insects evolved to a blood diet. "Independent of their function, these proteins may also be used for immune detection of humans and animals to bed bug exposure, or as part of desensitization vaccines," the report says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francischetti et al. Insight into the Sialome of the Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius. Journal of Proteome Research, 2010; 100519110228027 DOI: 10.1021/pr1000169

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "First preliminary profile of proteins in bed bugs' saliva." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623124300.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, July 12). First preliminary profile of proteins in bed bugs' saliva. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623124300.htm
American Chemical Society. "First preliminary profile of proteins in bed bugs' saliva." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623124300.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

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