Expression profile of Rhipicephalus microplus vitellogenin receptor during oogenesis

The vitellogenin receptor (VgR), which belongs to the low-density lipoprotein receptors(LDLR) family, regulates the absorption of yolk protein accumulated in developing oocytes during oogenesis. In the present study, the full sequence of Rhipicephalus microplus VgR (RmVgR) and the partial sequence of Rhipicephalus appendiculatus VgR (RaVgR) ORF were determined and cloned. The RmVgR amino acid sequence contains the five highly conserved structural motifs characteristic of LDLR superfamily members, the same overall structure as observed in other species. Phylogenetic analysis separated VgRs in two major groups, corresponding to receptors from acarines and insects. Consistent with observations from other arthropods, RmVgR was specifically expressed in the ovarian tissue and its peak of expression occurs in females that are detaching from the host. Silencing with RmVgR dsRNA reduced VgR expression, which resulted in reduced fertility, evidenced by a decrease in the number of larvae. The present study confirms RmVgR is a specific receptor involved in yolk protein uptake and oocyte maturation in R. microplus, playing an important role in tick reproduction.