Aedes aegypti sialokinin facilitates mosquito blood feeding and modulates host immunity and vascular biology
Saliva from mosquitoes contains vasodilators that antagonize vasoconstrictors produced at the bite site. Sialokinin is a vasodilator present in the saliva of Aedes aegypti. Here, we investigate its function and describe its mechanism of action during blood feeding. Sialokinin induces nitric oxide release similar to substance P. Sialokinin-KO mosquitoes produce lower blood perfusion than parental mosquitoes at the bite site during probing and have significantly longer probing times, which result in lower blood feeding success. In contrast, there is no difference in feeding between KO and parental mosquitoes when using artificial membrane feeders or mice that are treated with a substance P receptor antagonist, confirming that sialokinin interferes with host hemostasis via NK1R signaling. While sialokinin-KO saliva does not affect virus infection in vitro, it stimulates macrophages and inhibits leukocyte recruitment in vivo. This work highlights the biological functionality of salivary proteins in blood feeding.