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The salivary glands are vital to the biological success of ticks and they are a major route of pathogen transmission. Tick salivary glands undergo remarkable growth and differentiation during the blood-feeding period. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding small RNA molecules found in diverse organisms that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. To explore transcriptional differences in the miRNAs of fed and unfed tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) salivary glands, we investigated small RNA (sRNA) transcriptomes derived from the salivary glands and made a comparative analysis of miRNA profiles related to tick blood-feeding in the salivary glands. We generated two small RNA libraries from the salivary glands of unfed and fed H. longicornis, and obtained 14.8 and 10.3 million reads of 18-30 nt, respectively. The unfed-specific sRNAs were clearly richer than the fed-specific sRNAs in terms of the unique and total sRNAs. Overall, 769 conserved miRNA families were found in unfed samples, whereas 440 conserved miRNA families were found in fed samples. Six of the ten most abundant miRNA were found in both the unfed and fed tick salivary glands, i.e., miR-1, miR-375, bantam, miR-184, miR-739, and miR-263a. We found that known miRNA homologs displayed a wide variety of expression profiles in unfed and fed tick salivary glands. After blood-feeding, 162 known miRNAs were upregulated. The six main upregulated miRNAs were mir-1810, mir-2138, mir-2140, mir-425*, mir-429, and mir-516*. Likewise, 231 known miRNAs were downregulated after blood-feeding. The six main downregulated miRNAs were miR-2941-1*, miR-10-5p, miR-2973, miR-1183, miR-4006b-5p, and miR-881. We found that distinct microRNA profiles in the salivary glands of H. longicornis were relating to tick blood feeding. The differential expression of miRNAs in unfed and fed tick salivary glands supported their involvement at new levels in the regulation of tick blood-feeding. Our data provide an important resource for a more detailed functional analysis of miRNAs in this species.


Jinlin Zhou, Yongzhi Zhou, Jie Cao, Houshuang Zhang, Yingfang Yu. Distinctive microRNA profiles in the salivary glands of Haemaphysalis longicornis related to tick blood-feeding. Experimental & applied acarology. 2013 Mar;59(3):339-49

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PMID: 22918721

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