The Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum) has evolved as a competent vector of the spotted‐fever group rickettsia, Rickettsia parkeri. In this study, the functional role of catalase, an enzyme responsible for the degradation of toxic hydrogen peroxide, in the colonization of the tick vector by R. parkeri and transovarial transmission of this pathogen to the next tick generation, was investigated. Catalase gene (CAT) expression in midgut, salivary glands and ovarian tissues exhibited a 2–11‐fold increase in transcription level upon R. parkeri infection. Depletion of CAT transcripts using an RNA‐interference approach significantly reduced R. parkeri infection levels in midgut and salivary gland tissues by 53–63%. The role of CAT in transovarial transmission of R. parkeri was confirmed by simultaneously blocking the transcript and the enzyme by injecting double‐stranded RNA for CAT and a catalase inhibitor (3‐amino‐1,2,4‐triazole) into gravid females. Simultaneous inhibition of the CAT transcript and the enzyme significantly reduced the egg conversion ratio with a 44% reduction of R. parkeri transovarial transmission. These data suggest that catalase is required for rickettsial colonization of the tick vector and transovarial transmission to the next generation.
Insect Molecular Biology
(2017). Catalase is a Determinant of the Colonization and Transovarial Transmission of Rickettsia parkeri in the Gulf Coast Tick Amblyomma maculatum. Insect Molecular Biology, 26(4), 414-419.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/14950