Supplementary Material for: Functional Genomics of Tick Thioester-Containing Proteins Reveal the Ancient Origin of the Complement System

Ticks are important ectoparasites and vectors of multiple human and animal diseases. The obligatory hemophagy of ticks provides a formidable route for parasite transmission from one host to another. Parasite survival inside the tick relies on the ability of a pathogen to escape or inhibit tick immune defenses, but the molecular interactions between the tick and its pathogens remain poorly understood. Here we report that tick genomes are unique in that they contain all known classes of the α<sub>2</sub>-macroglobulin family (α<sub>2</sub>M-F) proteins: α<sub>2</sub>-macroglobulin pan-protease inhibitors, C3 complement components, and insect thioester-containing and macroglobulin-related proteins. By using RNA interference-mediated gene silencing in the hard tick <i>Ixodes ricinus</i> we demonstrated the central role of a C3-like molecule in the phagocytosis of bacteria and revealed nonredundant functions for α<sub>2</sub>M-F proteins. Assessment of α<sub>2</sub>M-F functions in a single organism should significantly contribute to the general knowledge on the evolution and function of the complement system. Importantly, understanding the tick immune mechanisms should provide new concepts for efficient transmission blocking of tick-borne diseases.