Validation of internal reference genes for real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction studies in the tick, Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae)

J Med Entomol. 2013 Jan;50(1):79-84. doi: 10.1603/me12034.


Obtaining reliable gene expression data using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is highly dependent on the choice of normalization method. We tested the expression stability of multiple candidate genes in the salivary glands (SG) and synganglia (SYN) of female Ixodes scapularis (Say) ticks in multiple blood-feeding phases. We found that the amount of total RNA in both the SG and SYN increases dramatically during tick feeding, with 34x and 5.8x increases from 62 and 7.1 ng of unfed tick, respectively. We tested candidate genes that were predicted from I. scapularis genome data to encode glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gapdh), ribosomal protein L13A (l13a), TATA box-binding protein (tbp), ribosomal protein S4 (rps4), glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (gpdh), and beta-glucuronidase (gusb). The geNorm and NormFinder algorithms were used to analyze data from different feeding phases (i.e., daily samples from unfed to fully engorged females over a 7-d period in three replicate experiments). We found that the rps4 and l13a genes showed highly stable expression patterns over the feeding duration in both the SG and SYN. Furthermore, the highly expressed rps4 gene makes it useful as a normalization factor when we perform studies using minute amounts of dissected tissue for qPCR. We conclude that rps4 and l13a, whether individually or as a pair, serve as suitable internal reference genes for qRT-PCR studies in the SG and SYN of I. scapularis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Ixodes / genetics*
  • Ixodes / metabolism
  • Rabbits
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism