Letters to Nature

Nature 417, 452-455 (23 May 2002) | doi:10.1038/417452a; Received 28 December 2001; Accepted 11 March 2002

Transgenic anopheline mosquitoes impaired in transmission of a malaria parasite

Junitsu Ito1,2, Anil Ghosh1,2, Luciano A. Moreira1, Ernst A. Wimmer3 & Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena1

  1. Case Western Reserve University, Department of Genetics, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Ohio 44106-4955, USA
  2. Lehrstuhl für Genetik, Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, NW1, D-95447 Bayreuth, Germany
  3. These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to: Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.J.-L. (e-mail: Email: mxj3@po.cwru.edu).

Malaria is estimated to cause 0.7 to 2.7 million deaths per year, but the actual figures could be substantially higher owing to under-reporting and difficulties in diagnosis1. If no new control measures are developed, the malaria death toll is projected to double in the next 20 years1. Efforts to control the disease are hampered by drug resistance in the Plasmodium parasites, insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, and the lack of an effective vaccine. Because mosquitoes are obligatory vectors for malaria transmission, the spread of malaria could be curtailed by rendering them incapable of transmitting parasites. Many of the tools required for the genetic manipulation of mosquito competence for malaria transmission have been developed. Foreign genes can now be introduced into the germ line of both culicine2, 3 and anopheline4 mosquitoes, and these transgenes can be expressed in a tissue-specific manner5, 6. Here we report on the use of such tools to generate transgenic mosquitoes that express antiparasitic genes in their midgut epithelium, thus rendering them inefficient vectors for the disease. These findings have significant implications for the development of new strategies for malaria control.