Tick CAPA propeptide cDNAs and receptor activity of endogenous tick pyrokinins and analogs: Towards discovering pyrokinin function in ticks. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pyrokinins (PKs) are pleiotropic neuropeptides with significant roles in invertebrate physiology. Although functions of PKs are known in insects, there is a lack of knowledge of PK-encoding genes and PKs functions in ticks. Herein the first tick cDNAs of the capability (capa) gene were cloned from the southern cattle tick, Rhipicephalus microplus (Acari: Ixodidae), and the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Each cDNA encoded one periviscerokinin and five different pyrokinins. Two PKs were identical in sequence in the two species. The three PKs unique to R. microplus (Rhimi-CAPA-PK1, -PK2, and -PK5) were tested on the recombinant R. microplus pyrokinin receptor using a calcium bioluminescence assay. The Rhimi-CAPA-PKs acted as agonists with EC50s ranging from 101-188nM. Twenty PK analogs designed for enhanced bioavailability and biostability were tested on the receptor. Five of these were designed based on the sequences of the three unique Rhimi-CAPA-PKs. Eight PK analogs were also agonists; four of them were full agonists that exhibited comparable efficacy to the native Rhimi-CAPA-PKs, with EC50 ranging from 401nM-1.9 M. The structure-activity relationships (SAR) of all analogs were analyzed. Our results suggested that a positively charged, basic lysine at the variable position X of the PK active core (FXPRLamide) conferred enhanced affinity to the analogs in their interaction with the tick receptor. These analogs are promising tools to elucidate the pyrokinin function in ticks in vivo as these analogs are expected to have prolonged hemolymph residence time in comparison to the native peptides.

published proceedings

  • Peptides

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Xiong, C., Yang, Y., Nachman, R. J., & Pietrantonio, P. V.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Xiong, Caixing||Yang, Yunlong||Nachman, Ronald J||Pietrantonio, Patricia V

publication date

  • January 2021