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Insect Mol Biol. 2010 Oct;19(5):617-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2010.01037.x. Epub 2010 Aug 5.

Pyrosequencing and characterization of immune response genes from the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis (L.).

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  • 1Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Noble Research Center, Stillwater, OK 74078-8031, USA.


Ticks continue to be a threat to animal and human health, and new and novel control strategies are needed for ticks and tick-borne pathogens. The characterization of the tick-pathogen interface and the tick immune response to microbial infections is fundamental toward the formulation of new control strategies for ticks and the pathogens they transmit. Our overall hypothesis for this research is that the tick immune system manages the maintenance of pathogens. Therefore, discovery of tick immune response genes may provide targets for novel control strategies directed toward reducing vector competency and pathogen transmission. In these studies, 454 pyrosequencing, a high-throughput genomic sequencing method was used to discover tick genes expressed in response to bacterial and fungal infections. Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were analysed from Dermacentor variabilis ticks that had been injected with bacteria (Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Micrococcus luteus) or fungi (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans) and ticks that were naturally infected with the intracellular bacterium, Anaplasma marginale. By this approach, ESTs were assembled into 5995 contigs. Contigs fell into the five main functional categories of metabolism, genetic information processing, environmental information processing, cellular processes and human diseases. We identified more than 30 genes that are likely to encode for proteins involved in tick immune function. We further analysed by reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) the expression of 22 of these genes in each of our bacterial or fungal treatment groups and found that seven were up-regulated. Up-regulation of these seven genes was confirmed for bacterial, but not fungal treatment by quantitative PCR (qPCR). One of these products was novel, encoding a new tick defensin. Our results clearly demonstrate the complexities of the tick immune system and mark new directions for further study and characterization of proteins that modulate microbial infections in the American dog tick.

© 2010 The Authors. Insect Molecular Biology © 2010 The Royal Entomological Society.

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