Tick Gené's organ engagement in lipid metabolism revealed by a combined transcriptomic and proteomic approach

Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2019 Jun;10(4):787-797. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2019.03.013. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Lipids play key roles in arthropod metabolism. In ticks, these biomolecules are transported from fat body to other organs, such as ovary and Gené's organ. Gené's organ, an apparatus found exclusively in female ticks, secretes a protective wax coat onto the egg surface, increasing egg viability in the environment due to waterproof, cohesive, and antimicrobial properties. In this work, a combined transcriptomic and proteomic approach shows that Gené's organ not solely secrets compounds taken up from the hemolymph, but is actively engaged in synthesis, modification, and oxidation of lipids. Gené's organ was analyzed at two distinct stages: 1) when ticks detach from host by the end of hematophagous phase, and 2) during egg-laying. Data show that Gené's organ undergoes a maturation process before the onset of oviposition, in preparation for its role during egg-laying. Because it deals with a wax-secreting organ, the study focused on lipid metabolism, examining a full machinery to synthesize, modify, and oxidize fatty acids. Proteins involved in sterol modification, transport, and degradation were also addressed. In addition to highlighting Gené's organ importance in tick reproductive physiology, the results reveal proteins and pathways crucial to egg wax secretion, and consequently, egg development in the environment. Tools targeting these molecules and pathways would impair egg viability in the environment, and therefore have the potential to be developed into novel tick control methods.

Keywords: Egg wax; Gené’s organ; Lipid gland; Proteome; Tick; Transcriptome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Oviposition
  • Ovum
  • Proteome*
  • Proteomics
  • Tick Control
  • Ticks / anatomy & histology*
  • Ticks / genetics
  • Ticks / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Waxes


  • Proteome
  • Waxes