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Open AccessFeature PaperReview

Tick Paralysis: Solving an Enigma

by Ronel Pienaar 1,2,*, Albert W. H. Neitz 3 and Ben J. Mans 1,2,4,*
Epidemiology, Parasites and Vectors, Agricultural Research Council–Onderstepoort Veterinary Research, Onderstepoort, Pretoria 0110, South Africa
Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, Pretoria 0110, South Africa
Division of Biochemistry, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria 0028, South Africa
Department of Life and Consumer Sciences, University of South Africa, Florida, Johannesburg 1710, South Africa
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Vet. Sci. 2018, 5(2), 53;
Received: 13 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 9 May 2018 / Published: 14 May 2018
In comparison to other arachnids, ticks are major vectors of disease, but less than 8% of the known species are capable of inducing paralysis, as compared to the ~99–100% arachnids that belong to venomous classes. When considering the potential monophyly of venomous Arachnida, this review reflects on the implications regarding the classification of ticks as venomous animals and the possible origin of toxins. The origin of tick toxins is compared with scorpion and spider toxins and venoms based on their significance, functionality, and structure in the search to find homologous venomous characters. Phenotypic evaluation of paralysis, as caused by different ticks, demonstrated the need for expansion on existing molecular data of pure isolated tick toxins because of differences and discrepancies in available data. The use of in-vivo, in-vitro, and in-silico assays for the purification and characterization of paralysis toxins were critically considered, in view of what may be considered to be a paralysis toxin. Purified toxins should exhibit physiologically relevant activity to distinguish them from other tick-derived proteins. A reductionist approach to identify defined tick proteins will remain as paramount in the search for defined anti-paralysis vaccines. View Full-Text
Keywords: blood-feeding; tick evolution; tick paralysis; tick toxicoses; venom; toxin blood-feeding; tick evolution; tick paralysis; tick toxicoses; venom; toxin
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Pienaar, R.; Neitz, A.W.H.; Mans, B.J. Tick Paralysis: Solving an Enigma. Vet. Sci. 2018, 5, 53.

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