Calreticulin (CRT ) is a unique eukaryotic gene. The CRT gene product, calreticulin, was first identified as a calcium binding protein in 1974, but further investigations have indicated that CRT protein performs many functions in cells, including involvement in evading the host's immune system by parasites. Many studies of CRT have been published since the molecule was first discovered; however, the CRT gene exon-intron structure is only known for a limited number of ectoparasite species. In this study, we compared tick CRT genomic sequences to the corresponding cDNA from 28 species and found that 2 exons and 1 intron are present in the tick CRT gene. The intron position is conserved in 28 hard ticks, but intron size and nucleotide sequences vary. Three tick introns possess duplicated fragments and are twice as long as other introns. All tick CRT introns obey the GT-AG rule in the splice-site junctions and are phase 1 introns. By comparing tick CRT introns to those of fruit fly, mouse, and human, we conclude that tick CRT introns belong to the intron-late type. The number and size of CRT introns have increased through the evolution of eukaryotes.

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