Ixodes scapularis ticks have an adiponectin receptor-like protein (ISARL) ISARL expression is significantly upregulated in the tick gut after Borrelia burgdorferi infection.
Adiponectin-mediated pathways contribute to mammalian homeostasis; however, little is known about adiponectin and adiponectin receptor signaling in arthropods. In this study, we demonstrate that Ixodes scapularis ticks have an adiponectin receptor-like protein (ISARL) but lack adiponectin - suggesting activation by alternative pathways. ISARL expression is significantly upregulated in the tick gut after Borrelia burgdorferi infection suggesting that ISARL-signaling may be co-opted by the Lyme disease agent. Consistent with this, RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing of ISARL significantly reduced the B. burgdorferi burden in the tick. RNA-seq-based transcriptomics and RNAi assays demonstrate that ISARL-mediated phospholipid metabolism by phosphatidylserine synthase I is associated with B. burgdorferi survival. Furthermore, the tick complement C1q-like protein 3 interacts with ISARL, and B. burgdorferi facilitates this process. This study identifies a new tick metabolic pathway that is connected to the life cycle of the Lyme disease spirochete.