Parasites & vectors

Identification of genes associated with blood feeding in the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis.

PMID 26168790


The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is a blood-feeding ectoparasitic insect and particular nuisance pest of companion animals worldwide. Identification of genes that are differentially expressed in response to feeding is important for understanding flea biology and discovering targets for their control. C. felis fleas were maintained and fed for 24 h using an artificial rearing system. The technique of suppression subtractive hybridization was employed to screen for mRNAs specifically expressed in fed fleas. We characterized nine distinct full-length flea transcripts that exhibited modulated or de novo expression during feeding. Among the predicted protein sequences were two serine proteases, a serine protease inhibitor, two mucin-like molecules, a DNA topoisomerase, an enzyme associated with GPI-mediated cell membrane attachment of proteins and a component of the insect innate immune response. Our results provide a molecular insight into the physiology of flea feeding. The protein products of the genes identified may play important roles during flea feeding in terms of blood meal digestion, cellular growth/repair and protection from feeding-associated stresses.