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Int J Parasitol. 2019 Jan 20. pii: S0020-7519(19)30002-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2018.11.006. [Epub ahead of print]

The leucokinin-like peptide receptor from the cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, is localized in the midgut periphery and receptor silencing with validated double-stranded RNAs causes a reproductive fitness cost.

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Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2475, USA.
Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory and Veterinary Pest Genomics Center, United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service, 2700 Fredericksburg Road Kerrville, TX 78028-9184, USA.
Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service, 22675 N. Moorefield Rd. Building 6419 Edinburg, TX 78541-5033, USA.
Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, CP87000 Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Department of Statistics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2475, USA.
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2475, USA. Electronic address:


The cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus (Canestrini) (Acari: Ixodidae), is a one-host tick that infests primarily cattle in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. This species transmits deadly cattle pathogens, especially Babesia spp., for which a recombinant vaccine is not available. Therefore, disease control depends on tick vector control. Although R. microplus was eradicated in the USA, tick populations in Mexico and South America have acquired resistance to many of the applied acaricides. Recent acaricide-resistant tick reintroductions detected in the U.S. underscore the need for novel tick control methods. The octopamine and tyramine/octopamine receptors, both G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), are believed to be the main molecular targets of the acaricide amitraz. This provides the proof of principle that investigating tick GPCRs, especially those that are invertebrate-specific, may be a feasible strategy for discovering novel targets and subsequently new anti-tick compounds. The R. microplus leucokinin-like peptide receptor (LKR), also known as the myokinin- or kinin receptor, is such a GPCR. While the receptor was previously characterized in vitro, the function of the leucokinin signaling system in ticks remains unknown. In this work, the LKR was immunolocalized to the periphery of the female midgut and silenced through RNA interference (RNAi) in females. To optimize RNAi experiments, a dual-luciferase system was developed to determine the silencing efficiency of LKR-double stranded RNA (dsRNA) constructs prior to testing those in ticks placed on cattle. This assay identified two effective dsRNAs. Silencing of the LKR with these two validated dsRNA constructs was verified by quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) of female tick dissected tissues. Silencing was significant in midguts and carcasses. Silencing caused decreases in weights of egg masses and in the percentages of eggs hatched per egg mass, as well as delays in time to oviposition and egg hatching. A role of the kinin receptor in tick reproduction is apparent.


Dual luciferase reporter system; Kinin GPCR; Midgut immunolocalization; RNAi; Reproduction; Rhipicephalus microplus

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