Dual silencing of long and short Amblyomma americanum acidic chitinase forms weakens the tick cement cone stability. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study demonstrates that Amblyomma americanum (Aam) constitutively and ubiquitously expresses the long (L) and short (S) putative acidic chitinases (Ach) that are distinguished by a 210 base pair (bp) deletion in AamAch-S. Full-length AamAch-L and AamAch-S cDNA are 1959 and 1718 bp long, containing 1332 and 1104 bp open reading frames that code for 443 and 367 amino acid residues proteins with the former predicted to be extracellular and the latter intracellular. Both AamAch-L and AamAch-S mRNA are expressed in multiple organs as revealed by qualitative RT-PCR analysis. Furthermore, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that AamAch-L mRNA was downregulated in the mid-gut, but was unchanged in the salivary gland and in other organs in response to feeding. Of significant interest, AamAch-L and/or AamAch-S functions are probably associated with formation and/or maintenance of stability of A. americanum tick cement cone. Dual RNA interference silencing of AamAch-L and/or AamAch-S mRNA caused ticks to loosely attach onto host skin as suggested by bleeding around tick mouthparts and ticks detaching off host skin with a light touch. AamAch-L may apparently encode an inactive chitinase as indicated by Pichia pastoris-expressed recombinant AamAch-L failing to hydrolyse chitinase substrates. Unpublished related work in our laboratory, and published work by others that found AamAch-L in tick saliva, suggest that native AamAch-L is a non-specific immunoglobulin binding tick saliva protein in that rAamAch-L non-specifically bound rabbit, bovine and chicken non-immune sera. We discuss findings in this study with reference to advancing knowledge on tick feeding physiology.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, T. K., Curran, J., & Mulenga, A.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Tae K||Curran, Janet||Mulenga, Albert

publication date

  • October 2014