Timing and location of tick hox gene expression
Hox proteins are important regulatory molecules used by almost all animal groups to establish body features during embryonic development. They are produced by a cluster of genes called the hox genes. Since these hox genes are highly conserved across taxa, they can be used to study evolutionary relatedness between different animals and to explain the great diversity of animal body forms observed in nature. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, Dermacentor andersoni is commonly found in parts of southern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and can spread diseases like the Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. Research has been conducted on the embryonic development of this tick to aid in understanding its life cycle. The purpose of this study is to examine the timing and location of hox gene expression in D. andersoni embryos, using RT-PCR and In-situ hybridization. It is hypothesized that hox genes will be expressed in the early stages of development when body segments are established and appendages start developing. It is expected that the location of expression will vary for each hox gene examined, based on its location in the tick genome. The data can be used to fill gaps in knowledge about tick hox expression and can provide information on tick evolution.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kevin Friesen