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Molecular characterization and expression analysis of three novel autophagy-related genes from the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae)



The cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus is a hematophagous ectoparasite of major importance for the livestock industry. It shows a remarkable ability to survive over long periods without feeding. However, the mechanisms used to endure long-term starvation are poorly understood. It is believed that autophagy, a process of intracellular protein degradation, may play a significant role to confront adverse environmental conditions. To advance our understanding of autophagy in R. microplus, in the present study we report the molecular characterization of three autophagy-related (ATG) genes, namely, RmATG3, RmATG4 and RmATG6, as well as their expression profiles in different developmental stages and organs of the parasite. The deduced amino acid sequences derived from the characterized gene sequences were subjected to Basic Local Alignment Search Tool analysis. The testing produced significant alignments with respective ATG proteins from Haemaphysalis longicornis and Ixodes scapularis ticks. Real-time polymerase chain reaction assays revealed that RmATG4 and RmATG6 transcripts were elevated in egg and ovary tissue, when compared with larva and midgut samples, while RmATG3 expression in midgut was 2-fold higher than in egg, larva and ovary samples.


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*Corresponding author: Centro de Investigación y Asistencia en Tecnología y Diseño del Estado de Jalisco, AC, Av. Normalistas 800, Col. Colinas de la Normal, 44270. Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. E-mail:


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