Haem and iron homeostasis in most eukaryotic cells is based on a balanced flux between haem biosynthesis and haem oxygenase-mediated degradation.Unlike most eukaryotes, ticks possess an incomplete haem biosynthetic pathway and, together with other (non-haematophagous) mites, lack a gene encoding haem oxygenase. We demonstrated, by membrane feeding, that ticks do not acquire bioavailable iron from haemoglobin-derived haem. However, ticks require dietary haemoglobin as an exogenous source of haem since, feeding with haemoglobin-depleted serum led to aborted embryogenesis. Supplementation of serum with haemoglobin fully restored egg fertility. Surprisingly, haemoglobin could be completely substituted by serum proteins for the provision of amino-acids in vitellogenesis. Acquired haem is distributed by haemolymph carrier protein(s) and sequestered by vitellins in the developing oocytes.This work extends, substantially, current knowledge of haem auxotrophy in ticks and underscores the importance of haem and iron metabolism as rational targets for anti-tick interventions.
Animal experimentation: All laboratory animals were treated in accordancewith the Animal Protection Law of the Czech Republic No. 246/1992 Sb., ethics approval No.095/2012.
- Utpal Pal, University of Maryland, United States
© 2016, Perner et al.
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