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Kansas State University



Deborah Jaworski






Deborah C. Jaworski
BS, 1980, The Ohio State University
MS, 1982, Oklahoma State University
PhD, 1991, The Ohio State University

Research Assistant Professor
Phone: 785-532-3887
Fax: 785-532-4851





Central regions of the US are experiencing over 300% increases in emerging/re-emerging tick-borne illnesses.  We are beginning to amass critical information regarding how tick-borne pathogens survive and reproduce disease in their hosts, but the activation of these pathogens in the tick is less well understood. Learning how a tick handles bacteria will lead to novel ways to manage and prevent tick-borne infections.  Currently, there are only a few models for studying intracellular bacteria in ticks.  We have developed several models for the tick-transmitted disease monocytic ehrlichiosis in white-tailed deer and dogs.  White-tailed deer are the reservoir hosts for Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the intracellular bacteria that causes the infection, and that is transmitted by Amblyomma americanum ticks (lone star ticks) to humans.  What is not known is the role that tick genes play in acquisition and transmission of this pathogen. Lack of knowledge of the genes that are critical to transmission prohibits us from creating new technologies to prevent transmission at the vector source. 

My long term research goal is to understand the molecular basis of tick feeding and pathogen transmission. The central hypothesis is that infection-regulated genes in the tick are necessary to orchestrate the movement of intracellular pathogens from the midgut to the salivary glands, and infect the mammalian host. Discovering the key molecular mechanisms in the movement/activation of bacteria in tick cells will provide the framework for powerful targets that can be exploited for controlling and limiting tick-borne infections. Within this framework, I have developed three specific areas for my research.  The major research emphasis is the continued development and utilization of a white tailed deer model and dog models for lone star tick-transmitted monocytic ehrlichiosis.  My second research area is a molecular based study of the tick innate immune system with an emphasis on the infection-regulated genes including tick genes that regulate intracellular bacteria in the tick midgut. A third area of continued interest is in understanding the tick proteins that are involved in the female tick’s slow feeding phase.


Selected Publications

Jaworski, D.C., D.M. Barker, J.P. Williams, J.R. Sauer, C.L. Ownby and J.A. Hair.  1983.  Age-related changes in midgut ultrastructure and surface tegument of unfed adult lone star ticks.  J. Parasitol. 69 (4) 701-708.

Jaworski, D.C., J.R. Sauer, J.P. Williams, R.W. McNew and J.A. Hair.  1984.  Age-related effects on water, lipid, hemoglobin, and critical equilibrium humidity in unfed adult lone star ticks (Acari:  Ixodidae).  J. Med. Entomol. 21 (1) 100-104.

Jaworski, D.C., M.T. Muller, F.A. Simmen and G. R. Needham.  1990.  Amblyomma americanum:  Identification of tick salivary gland antigens from unfed and early feeding females with comparisons to Ixodes dammini and Dermacentor variabilis.  Exp Parasitol. 70:217-226.

Jaworski, D.C., R. Rosell, L.B. Coons and G.R. Needham.  1992.  Tick (Acari:  Ixodidae) attachment cement and salivary gland cells contain similar immunoreactive polypeptides.  J. Med. Entomol. 29:305-309.

Hink, W.F., P.W. Pappas, and D.C. Jaworski.  1994. Partial biochemical composition of venom from the ant, Pseudomyrmex triplarinus. Toxicon 32, 763-772. 

Radulovic, S., J.A. Higgins, D.C. Jaworski, G.A. Dasch and A.F. Azad.  1995.  Isolation, cultivation, and partial characterization of ELB agent associated with Cat Fleas.  Infection and Immunity 63, 4826-4829.

Jaworski, D.C., F.A. Simmen, W. Lamoreaux, L.B. Coons, M.T. Muller and G.R. Needham. 1995. A secreted calreticulin protein in ixodid tick saliva.  J. Ins. Physiol. 41, 369-375.

Radulovic, S., J.A. Higgins, D.C. Jaworski and A. F. Azad. 1995. In Vitro and In Vivo Antibiotic Susceptibilities of ELB Rickettsiae. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 39, 2564-2566.

Higgins, J.A., S. Radulovic, D.C. Jaworski and A.F. Azad. 1996.  Acquisition of the Cat Scratch disease agent Bartonella henselae by Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae).  J. Med. Entomol.  33, 490-495.

Jaworski, D.C., J.A. Higgins, S. Radulovic, Jefferson A. Vaughan and A. F. Azad.  1996.  Presence of Calreticulin in Vector Fleas (Siphonaptera).  J. Med. Entomol. 33, 482-489.

Needham, G.R., D.C. Jaworski, C.-P. Chen and R.E. Lee, Jr.  1996.  Cold hardiness in a laboratory reared colony of Lone Star ticks (Acari:  Ixodidae).  J. Med. Entomol.  33, 706-710.

Mauk, R., D. Jaworski, N. Kamei and C.G. Glabe.  1997.  Identification of a 97 kDa heat shock protein from S. franciscanus with 94% amino acid identity to the S. purpuratus egg surface receptor for sperm. Dev. Biology.  184, 31-37.

Sanders, M.L., D.C. Jaworski, J.L. Sanchez, R.F. DeFraites, A.L. Scott, G.E. Glass, S. Raha, B. Ritchie, G.R. Needham and B.S. Schwartz.  1998.  Antibody to a cDNA-derived calreticulin protein from Amblyomma americanum is a biomarker of tick exposure in humans. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 59, 279-285.

Jasinskas, A., D.C. Jaworski and A.G. Barbour.  2000. Amblyomma americanum:
Specific uptake of immunoglobulins into tick hemolymph during feeding. Experimental Parasitology, 96:213-221.

Jaworski, D.C., A. Jasinskas, C.N. Metz, R. Bucala and A.G. Barbour. 2001. Identification and functional characterization of a homologue of the proinflammatory cytokine Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor in the tick vector, Amblyomma americanum. Ins Mol Biol, Aug: 10 (4):323-331.

Jaworski, D.C. 2003. ‘Tick talk’: Current view on protein release from tick salivary cells.  Trends in Parasitology, 19:427-429.

Jaworski, D.C., C.J. Bowen and N.B. Wasala.  2009. Amblyomma americanum (L): Tick Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Peptide immunization lengthens lone star tick feeding intervals in vivo. Exp Parasitol. 121:384-387.

Bowen, C.J., D.C. Jaworski and N.B. Wasala. 2010. Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) Expression and Protein Localization in Amblyomma americanum L. (Ixodidae).  Exp Appl Acarol. 50:342-359.

Jaworski, D.C., Z. Zou, C.J. Bowen, R. Madden, N.B. Wasala, Y. Wang, K. Kocan, H. Jiang and J.W. Dillwith.  2010. Pyrosequencing and characterization of immune response genes from the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis (L.). Ins Mol Biol, 19: 617-630.

Wasala, N.B. and Jaworski, D.C. 2012.  Dermacentor variabilis: Characterization and modeling of macrophage migration inhibitory factor with phylogenetic comparisons to other ticks, insects and parasitic nematodes.  Exp Parasitol, 130: 232-238.

Wasala, N.B., Bowen, C.J., and Jaworski, D.C.  2012.  Expression and regulation of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in feeding American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis Say). Exp Appl Acarol. 57:179-187.

Cheng, C., Nair, A.D.S, Indukuri, V.V., Gong, S., Felsheim, R.F., Jaworski, D.C., Munderloh, U.G., and Ganta, R.R.  2013.  Targeted and random mutagenesis of Ehrlichia chaffeensis for the identification of genes required for in vivo infection. PLoS Pathog 9(2): e1003171. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003171

Jaworski, D.C., Bowen, C.J. and Wasala, N.B. 2013. A white tailed deer /lone star tick model for studying transmission of Ehrlichia chaffeensis. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 13: 193-195.

Cote, N.M., Jaworski, D.C., Wasala, N.B., Morgan, M.S., and Arlian, L.G. 2013. Identification and expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in Sarcoptes scabiei.
Exp Parasitol. 135: 175-181.