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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Apr;37(4):375-88. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

Molecular characterization, tissue-specific expression and RNAi knockdown of the first vitellogenin receptor from a tick.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA.


This is the first full-length message for a vitellogenin receptor (VgR) sequenced from ticks. VgRs, members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) superfamily, mediate the uptake of the yolk protein, vitellogenin (Vg), from the hemolymph. The VgR message from the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis (GenBank accession No. DQ103506.4) comprised 5673 bp which coded for a 1798 aa deduced protein with a predicted 196.6 kDa molecular mass. After removing the 20 aa signal peptide, the 1778 aa deduced mature protein had a predicted 196.6 kDa molecular mass. BLAST comparisons showed the highest similarity to the VgR of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana. VgR message was expressed in mated female ovary but absent in female midgut and salivary glands or whole body mRNA from blood fed males, indicating that it is both sex and tissue specific. VgR transcript was absent in virgin (previtellogenic) females but present in ovaries of mated females following drop off. RNAi showed that unfed adult ticks injected with a VgR-dsRNA probe failed to lay eggs, develop brown eggs or fully express VgR transcript (Northern blots). In contrast, controls oviposited numerous normal brown eggs and showed strong expression of VgR transcripts. These results show that the expression of the VgR message is essential for Vg uptake and egg development in the American dog tick.

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