Synganglion transcriptome and developmental global gene expression in adult females of the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae)

B. W. Bissinger, K. V. Donohue, S. M.S. Khalil, C. M. Grozinger, D. E. Sonenshine, J. Zhu, R. M. Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


454 Pyrosequencing was used to characterize the expressed genes from the synganglion and associated neurosecretory organs of unfed and partially fed virgin and mated replete females of the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. A total of 14 881 contiguous sequences (contigs) was assembled, with an average size of 229 bp. Gene ontology terms for Level 2 biological processes were assigned to 4366 contigs. Seven acetylcholinesterases, a muscarinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor, two nicotinic ACh receptor β-subunits, two ACh unc-18 regulators, two dopamine receptors, two gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, two GABA transporters, two norepinephrine transporters and an octopamine receptor are described. Microarrays were conducted to examine global gene expression and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to verify expression of selected neuropeptides. Hierarchical clustering of all differentially expressed transcripts grouped part-fed and replete ticks as being more similar in terms of differentially expressed genes with unfed ticks as the outgroup. Nine putative neuropeptides (allatostatin, bursicon-β, preprocorazonin, glycoprotein hormone α, insulin-like peptide, three orcokinins, preprosulphakinin) and a gonadotropin releasing hormone receptor were differentially expressed, and their developmental expression and role in reproduction was investigated. The presence of eclosion hormone, corazonin and bursicon in the synganglion, which in insects regulate behaviour and cuticle development associated with moulting, suggest that this system may be used in ticks to regulate blood feeding, cuticle expansion and development related to female reproduction; adult ticks do not moult.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-491
Number of pages27
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Insect Science


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