A Systems Biology Approach to the Characterization of Stress Response in Dermacentor reticulatus Tick Unfed LarvaeReport as inadecuate

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Dermacentor reticulatus Fabricius, 1794 is distributed in Europe and Asia where it infests and transmits disease-causing pathogens to humans, pets and other domestic and wild animals. However, despite its role as a vector of emerging or re-emerging diseases, very little information is available on the genome, transcriptome and proteome of D. reticulatus. Tick larvae are the first developmental stage to infest hosts, acquire infection and transmit pathogens that are transovarially transmitted and are exposed to extremely stressing conditions. In this study, we used a systems biology approach to get an insight into the mechanisms active in D. reticulatus unfed larvae, with special emphasis on stress response.

Principal Findings

The results support the use of paired end RNA sequencing and proteomics informed by transcriptomics PIT for the analysis of transcriptomics and proteomics data, particularly for organisms such as D. reticulatus with little sequence information available. The results showed that metabolic and cellular processes involved in protein synthesis were the most active in D. reticulatus unfed larvae, suggesting that ticks are very active during this life stage. The stress response was activated in D. reticulatus unfed larvae and a Rickettsia sp. similar to R. raoultii was identified in these ticks.


The activation of stress responses in D. reticulatus unfed larvae likely counteracts the negative effect of temperature and other stress conditions such as Rickettsia infection and favors tick adaptation to environmental conditions to increase tick survival. These results show mechanisms that have evolved in D. reticulatus ticks to survive under stress conditions and suggest that these mechanisms are conserved across hard tick species. Targeting some of these proteins by vaccination may increase tick susceptibility to natural stress conditions, which in turn reduce tick survival and reproduction, thus reducing tick populations and vector capacity for tick-borne pathogens.

Author: Margarita Villar, Marina Popara, Nieves Ayllón, Isabel G. Fernández de Mera, Lourdes Mateos-Hernández, Ruth C. Galindo, Marina

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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