Tissue and life-stage distribution of a defensin gene in the Lone Star tick, Amblyomma americanum.Med Vet Entomol. 2007 Jun; 21(2):141-7.MV
The transcript sequence of the Amblyomma americanum Linnaeus (Acari: Ixodidae) defensin, termed amercin (amn), was ascertained and a 219-bp amn coding region identified. The gene encodes a 72-amino acid prepropeptide with a putative 37-amino acid mature peptide. This gene shows little similarity to either of the defensins from Amblyomma hebraeum Koch, the only other Amblyomma species for which a defensin has been described. Sequence comparisons with other tick defensins reveal amn to be shorter (6 bp or 2 amino acids) than the Ixodes scapularis Linnaeus (Acari: Ixodidae) and Dermacentor variabilis (Say) (Acari: Ixodidae) defensin sequences. The amercin prepropeptide has 60.8% and 59.5% similarity with the I. scapularis and D. variabilis prepropeptides, respectively, whereas the mature amercin peptide has 73.7% and 71.1% similarity with the mature peptides of these ticks. Similarity with other tick defensins ranges from 42% to 71%. In A. americanum, defensin transcript was found in the midgut, fat body and salivary gland tissues, as well as in the haemocytes. Defensin transcript was also present in early-stage eggs (less than 48 h old), late-stage eggs (approximately 2 weeks old), larvae and nymphs of A. americanum and I. scapularis, both of which are vector-competent for Borrelia spirochetes.