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Transgenic anopheline mosquitoes impaired in transmission of a malaria parasite

Abstract

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.

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Figure 1: Structure of the AgCP[SM1]4 gene and its expression in transgenic mosquitoes.
Figure 2: Detection of mosquito-synthesized [SM1]4 protein.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Snyder and G. Hundemer for help, and members of the laboratory for comments. This investigation received financial support from the UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and from the National Institutes of Health. E.A.W. acknowledges support by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

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Correspondence to Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena.

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Ito, J., Ghosh, A., Moreira, L. et al. Transgenic anopheline mosquitoes impaired in transmission of a malaria parasite. Nature 417, 452–455 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/417452a

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