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Neuropeptide discovery in Ixodoidea: an in silico investigation using publicly accessible expressed sequence tags.

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The Ixodoidea (ticks) are important vectors in the transmission of many human diseases; for example, the blacklegged tick Ixodes scapularis is the major vector in the transmission of
Lyme disease, the most frequently reported vector-borne illness in the United States. The development of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) for ixodoidean cDNA libraries, and their public deposition, has generated a rich resource for protein discovery in members of this taxon, thereby providing an opportunity for better understanding the physiology and behavior of these
disease vectors. Here, in silico searches of publicly accessible ESTs were conducted to identify transcripts encoding putative ixodoidean neuropeptide precursors, with the mature peptides contained within them predicted using online peptide processing programs and homology to known arthropod sequences. In total, 37 putative neuropeptide-encoding ESTs were identified from three ixodoidean species: I. scapularis (29 ESTs), Rhipicephalus microplus (seven ESTs) and Amblyomma americanum (one EST). Among those identified from I. scapularis were ones predicted to encode isoforms of corazonin, crustacean hyperglycemic hormone/ion transport peptide, diuretic hormone (both calcitonin- and corticotropin-releasing factor-like), FMRFamide-related peptide (both short neuropeptide F and sulfakinin subfamilies) orcokinin, proctolin, pyrokinin/periviscerokinin/pheromone biosynthesis activating neuropeptide, SIFamide, and tachykinin-related peptide. Collectively, 80 distinct ixodoidean neuropeptides were characterized from the identified precursors. These results not only expand greatly the number of known/predicted ixodoidean neuropeptides, but also provide a strong foundation for future molecular and physiological investigations of peptidergic control in this important group of
disease-transmitting arthropods.

Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2008 Jun;157(2):174-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2008.03.027. Epub 2008 Apr 11. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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