Despite its function in sex determination and its role in driving genome evolution, the Y chromosome remains poorly understood in most species. Y chromosomes are gene-poor, repeat-rich and largely heterochromatic and therefore represent a difficult target for genetic engineering. The Y chromosome of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae appears to be involved in sex determination although very little is known about both its structure and function. Here, we characterize a transgenic strain of this mosquito species, obtained by transposon-mediated integration of a transgene construct onto the Y chromosome. Using meganuclease-induced homologous repair we introduce a site-specific recombination signal onto the Y chromosome and show that the resulting docking line can be used for secondary integration. To demonstrate its utility, we study the activity of a germ-line-specific promoter when located on the Y chromosome. We also show that Y-linked fluorescent transgenes allow automated sex separation of this important vector species, providing the means to generate large single-sex populations. Our findings will aid studies of sex chromosome function and enable the development of male-exclusive genetic traits for vector control.
Selfish genes are DNA elements that increase their rate of genetic transmission at the expense of other genes in the genome and can therefore quickly spread within a population. It has been suggested that selfish elements could be exploited to modify the genome of entire populations for medical and ecological applications. Here we report that transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) and zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) can be engineered into site-specific synthetic selfish elements (SSEs) and demonstrate their transmission of up to 70% in the Drosophila germline. We show here that SSEs can spread via DNA break-induced homologous recombination, a process known as 'homing' similar to that observed for homing endonuclease genes (HEGs), despite their fundamentally different modes of DNA binding and cleavage. We observed that TALEN and ZFN have a reduced capability of secondary homing compared to HEG as their repetitive structure had a negative effect on their genetic stability. The modular architecture of ZFNs and TALENs allows for the rapid design of novel SSEs against specific genomic sequences making them potentially suitable for the genetic engineering of wild-type populations of animals and plants, in applications such as gene replacement or population suppression of pest species.
Insecticide resistance amongst disease vectors is a growing problem and novel compounds are needed. Biogenic amines are important for neurotransmission and we have recently shown a potential role for these in mosquito fertility. Here, we dissected the relative contribution of different aminergic signalling pathways to biological processes essential for vectorial capacity such as fertility, locomotion and survival by injecting agonists and antagonists and showed that octopaminergic/tyraminergic signalling is essential for oviposition and hatching rate. We show that egg melanisation is regulated by adrenergic signalling, whose disruption causes premature melanisation specifically through the action of tyramine. In addition to this, co-injection of tyramine with DOPA, the precursor of melanin, had a strong cumulative negative effect on mosquito locomotion and survival. Dopaminergic and serotonergic antagonists such as amitriptyline and citalopram recapitulate this effect. Together these results reveal potential new target sites for the development of future mosquito sterilants and insecticides.
As our knowledge about the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS) increases, deterministic paradigms appear insufficient to describe the pathogenesis of the disease, and the impression is that stochastic phenomena (i.e. random events not necessarily resulting in disease in all individuals) may contribute to the development of MS. However, sources and mechanisms of stochastic behavior have not been investigated and there is no proposed framework to incorporate nondeterministic processes into disease biology. In this report, we will first describe analogies between physics of nonlinear systems and cell biology, showing how small-scale random perturbations can impact on large-scale phenomena, including cell function. We will then review growing and solid evidence showing that stochastic gene expression (or gene expression "noise") can be a driver of phenotypic variation. Moreover, we will describe new methods that open unprecedented opportunities for the study of such phenomena in patients and the impact of this information on our understanding of MS course and therapy.
It has been theorized that inducing extreme reproductive sex ratios could be a method to suppress or eliminate pest populations. Limited knowledge about the genetic makeup and mode of action of naturally occurring sex distorters and the prevalence of co-evolving suppressors has hampered their use for control. Here we generate a synthetic sex distortion system by exploiting the specificity of the homing endonuclease I-PpoI, which is able to selectively cleave ribosomal gene sequences of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae that are located exclusively on the mosquito's X chromosome. We combine structure-based protein engineering and molecular genetics to restrict the activity of the potentially toxic endonuclease to spermatogenesis. Shredding of the paternal X chromosome prevents it from being transmitted to the next generation, resulting in fully fertile mosquito strains that produce >95% male offspring. We demonstrate that distorter male mosquitoes can efficiently suppress caged wild-type mosquito populations, providing the foundation for a new class of genetic vector control strategies.
The availability of a highly purified and well characterized circumsporozoite protein (CSP) is essential to improve upon the partial success of recombinant CSP-based malaria vaccine candidates. Soluble, near full-length, Plasmodium falciparum CSP vaccine antigen (CS/D) was produced in E. coli under bio-production conditions that comply with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). A mouse immunogenicity study was conducted using a stable oil-in-water emulsion (SE) of CS/D in combination with the Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4) agonist Glucopyranosyl Lipid A (GLA/SE), or one of two TLR7/8 agonists: R848 (un-conjugated) or 3M-051 (covalently conjugated). Compared to Alum and SE, GLA/SE induced higher CS/D specific antibody response in Balb/c mice. Subclass analysis showed higher IgG2:IgG1 ratio of GLA/SE induced antibodies as compared to Alum and SE. TLR synergy was not observed when soluble R848 was mixed with GLA/SE. Antibody response of 3M051 formulations in Balb/c was similar to GLA/SE, except for the higher IgG2:IgG1 ratio and a trend towards higher T cell responses in 3M051 containing groups. However, no synergistic enhancement of antibody and T cell response was evident when 3M051 conjugate was mixed with GLA/SE. In C57Bl/6 mice, CS/D adjuvanted with 3M051/SE or GLA/SE induced higher CSP repeat specific titers compared to SE. While, 3M051 induced antibodies had high IgG2c:IgG1 ratio, GLA/SE promoted high levels of both IgG1 and IgG2c. GLA/SE also induced more potent T-cell responses compared to SE in two independent C57/BL6 vaccination studies, suggesting a balanced and productive TH1/TH2 response. GLA and 3M-051 similarly enhanced the protective efficacy of CS/D against challenge with a transgenic P. berghei parasite and most importantly, high levels of cytophilic IgG2 antibodies were associated with protection in this model. Our data indicated that the cGMP-grade, soluble CS/D antigen combined with the TLR4-containing adjuvant GLA/SE warrants further evaluation for protective responses in humans.
The blood meal of the female malaria mosquito is a pre-requisite to egg production and also represents the transmission route for the malaria parasite. The proper and rapid assimilation of proteins and nutrients in the blood meal creates a significant metabolic challenge for the mosquito. To better understand this process we generated a global profile of metabolite changes in response to blood meal of Anopheles gambiae, using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). To disrupt a key pathway of amino acid metabolism we silenced the gene phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) involved in the conversion of the amino acid phenylalanine into tyrosine. We observed increased levels of phenylalanine and the potentially toxic metabolites phenylpyruvate and phenyllactate as well as a reduction in the amount of tyrosine available for melanin synthesis. This in turn resulted in a significant impairment of the melanotic encapsulation response against the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. Furthermore silencing of PAH resulted in a significant impairment of mosquito fertility associated with reduction of laid eggs, retarded vitellogenesis and impaired melanisation of the chorion. Carbidopa, an inhibitor of the downstream enzyme DOPA decarboxylase that coverts DOPA into dopamine, produced similar effects on egg melanization and hatching rate suggesting that egg chorion maturation is mainly regulated via dopamine. This study sheds new light on the role of amino acid metabolism in regulating reproduction and immunity.
Circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of Plasmodium falciparum is a protective human malaria vaccine candidate. There is an urgent need for models that can rapidly down-select novel CSP-based vaccine candidates. In the present study, the mouse-mosquito transmission cycle of a transgenic Plasmodium berghei malaria parasite stably expressing a functional full-length P. falciparum CSP was optimized to consistently produce infective sporozoites for protection studies. A minimal sporozoite challenge dose was established, and protection was defined as the absence of blood-stage parasites 14 days after intravenous challenge. The specificity of protection was confirmed by vaccinating mice with multiple CSP constructs of differing lengths and compositions. Constructs that induced high NANP repeat-specific antibody titers in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were protective, and the degree of protection was dependent on the antigen dose. There was a positive correlation between antibody avidity and protection. The antibodies in the protected mice recognized the native CSP on the parasites and showed sporozoite invasion inhibitory activity. Passive transfer of anti-CSP antibodies into naive mice also induced protection. Thus, we have demonstrated the utility of a mouse efficacy model to down-select human CSP-based vaccine formulations.
The ability to introduce genetic constructs of choice into the genome of Anopheles mosquitoes provides a valuable tool to study the molecular interactions between the Plasmodium parasite and its insect host. In the long term, this technology could potentially offer new ways to control vector-borne diseases through the suppression of target mosquito populations or through the introgression of traits that preclude pathogen transmission. Here, we describe in detail protocols for the generation of transgenic Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes based on germ-line transformation using either modified transposable elements or the site-specific PhiC31 recombinase.
The full understanding of the mechanisms underlying transcriptional regulatory networks requires unravelling of complex causal relationships. Genome high-throughput technologies produce a huge amount of information pertaining gene expression and regulation; however, the complexity of the available data is often overwhelming and tools are needed to extract and organize the relevant information. This work starts from the assumption that the observation of co-occurrent events (in particular co-localization, co-expression and co-regulation) may provide a powerful starting point to begin unravelling transcriptional regulatory networks. Co-expressed genes often imply shared functional pathways; co-expressed and functionally related genes are often co-localized, too; moreover, co-expressed and co-localized genes are also potential targets for co-regulation; finally, co-regulation seems more frequent for genes mapped to proximal chromosome regions. Despite the recognized importance of analysing co-occurrent events, no bioinformatics solution allowing the simultaneous analysis of co-expression, co-localization and co-regulation is currently available. Our work resulted in developing and valuating CluGene, a software providing tools to analyze multiple types of co-occurrences within a single interactive environment allowing the interactive investigation of combined co-expression, co-localization and co-regulation of genes. The use of CluGene will enhance the power of testing hypothesis and experimental approaches aimed at unravelling transcriptional regulatory networks. The software is freely available at http://bioinfolab.unipg.it/.
Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto is the major vector of malaria, a disease with devastating consequences for human health. Given the constant spread of the disease, alternative approaches to the use of insecticides are urgently needed to control vector populations. Females of this species undergo large behavioral changes after mating, which include a life-long refractoriness to further insemination and the induction of egg laying in blood-fed individuals. Genetic control strategies aimed at impacting Anopheles fertility through the release of sterile males are being advocated to reduce the size of mosquito field populations. Such strategies depend on the ability of the released sterile males to mate successfully with wild females and to switch off the female receptivity to further copulation. Here we evaluate the role of sperm in regulating female behavioral responses after mating in An. gambiae. We developed spermless males by RNAi silencing of a germ cell differentiation gene. These males mated successfully and preserved standard accessory gland functions. Females mated to spermless males exhibited normal postcopulatory responses, which included laying large numbers of eggs upon blood feeding and becoming refractory to subsequent insemination. Moreover, spermless males induced transcriptional changes in female reproductive genes comparable to those elicited by fertile males. Our data demonstrate that, in contrast to Drosophila, targeting sperm in An. gambiae preserves normal male and female reproductive behavior for the traits and time frame analyzed and validate the use of approaches based on incapacitation or elimination of sperm for genetic control of vector populations to block malaria transmission.
Recent reports of reductions in malaria transmission in several African countries have resulted in optimism that malaria can be eliminated in parts of Africa where it is currently endemic. It is not known whether these trends are global or whether they are also present in areas where political instability has hindered effective malaria control. We determined malaria parasite carriage and age-dependent antibody responses to Plasmodium falciparum antigens in cross-sectional surveys in Apac, northern Uganda that was affected by political unrest. Under-five parasite prevalence was 55.8% (115/206) by microscopy and 71.9% (41/57) by polymerase chain reaction. Plasmodium ovale alone, or as a co-infection, was detected in 8.6% (12/139) and Plasmodium malariae in 4.3% (6/139) of the infections. Age seroprevalence curves gave no indication of recent changes in malaria transmission intensity. Malaria control remains a tremendous challenge in areas that have not benefited from large-scale interventions, illustrated here by the district of Apac.
Blood stage malaria parasites causing a mild and self limited infection in mice have been obtained with either radiation or chemical mutagenesis showing the possibility of developing an attenuated malaria vaccine. Targeted disruption of plasmepsin-4 (pm4) or the merozoite surface protein-7 (msp7) genes also induces a virulence-attenuated phenotype in terms of absence of experimental cerebral malaria (ECM), delayed increase of parasitemia and reduced mortality rate. The decrease in virulence in parasites lacking either pm4 or msp7 is however incomplete and dependent on the parasite and mouse strain combination. The sequential disruption of both genes induced remarkable virulence-attenuated blood-stage parasites characterized by a self-resolving infection with low levels of parasitemia and no ECM. Furthermore, convalescent mice were protected against the challenge with P. berghei or P. yoelii parasites for several months. These observations provide a proof-of-concept step for the development of human malaria vaccines based on genetically attenuated blood-stage parasites.
Genetic methods of manipulating or eradicating disease vector populations have long been discussed as an attractive alternative to existing control measures because of their potential advantages in terms of effectiveness and species specificity. The development of genetically engineered malaria-resistant mosquitoes has shown, as a proof of principle, the possibility of targeting the mosquitos ability to serve as a disease vector. The translation of these achievements into control measures requires an effective technology to spread a genetic modification from laboratory mosquitoes to field populations. We have suggested previously that homing endonuclease genes (HEGs), a class of simple selfish genetic elements, could be exploited for this purpose. Here we demonstrate that a synthetic genetic element, consisting of mosquito regulatory regions and the homing endonuclease gene I-SceI, can substantially increase its transmission to the progeny in transgenic mosquitoes of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. We show that the I-SceI element is able to invade receptive mosquito cage populations rapidly, validating mathematical models for the transmission dynamics of HEGs. Molecular analyses confirm that expression of I-SceI in the male germline induces high rates of site-specific chromosomal cleavage and gene conversion, which results in the gain of the I-SceI gene, and underlies the observed genetic drive. These findings demonstrate a new mechanism by which genetic control measures can be implemented. Our results also show in principle how sequence-specific genetic drive elements like HEGs could be used to take the step from the genetic engineering of individuals to the genetic engineering of populations.
Epidemiological evidence indicates that atopic asthma correlates with high serum IgE levels though the contribution of allergen specific IgE to the pathogenesis and the severity of the disease is still unclear.
In Anopheles gambiae, sex-regulated genes are responsible for controlling gender dimorphism and are therefore crucial in determining the ability of female mosquitoes to transmit human malaria. The identification and functional characterization of these genes will shed light on the sexual development and maturation of mosquitoes and provide useful targets for genetic control measures aimed at reducing mosquito fertility and/or distorting the sex ratio.We conducted a genome wide transcriptional analysis of sex-regulated genes from early developmental stages through adulthood combined with functional screening of novel gonadal genes. Our results demonstrate that the male-biased genes undergo a major transcription turnover starting from larval stages to adulthood. The male biased genes at the adult stage include a significant high number of unique sequences compared to the rest of the genome. This is in contrast to female-biased genes that are much more conserved and are mainly activated during late developmental stages.The high frequency of unique sequences would indicate that male-biased genes evolve more rapidly than the rest of the genome. This finding is particularly intriguing because A. gambiae is a strictly female monogamous species suggesting that driving forces in addition to sperm competition must account for the rapid evolution of male-biased genes. We have also identified and functionally characterized a number of previously unknown A. gambiae testis- and ovary-specific genes. Two of these genes, zero population growth and a suppressor of defective silencing 3 domain of the histone deacetylase co-repressor complex, were shown to play a key role in gonad development.
Tissue-specific promoters controlling the expression of transgenes in Anopheles mosquitoes represent a valuable tool both for studying the interaction between these malaria vectors and the Plasmodium parasites they transmit and for novel malaria control strategies based on developing Plasmodium-refractory mosquitoes by expressing anti-parasitic genes. With this aim we have studied the promoter regions of two genes from the most important malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, whose expression is strongly induced upon blood feeding.
The mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is the primary vector of human malaria, a disease responsible for millions of deaths each year. To improve strategies for controlling transmission of the causative parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, we require a thorough understanding of the developmental mechanisms, physiological processes and evolutionary pressures affecting life-history traits in the mosquito. Identifying genes expressed in particular tissues or involved in specific biological processes is an essential part of this process.
The notion that genes are non-randomly organized within the chromosomes of eukaryotic organisms has recently received strong experimental support. Clusters of co-expressed and co-localized genes have been recognized as playing key roles in a number of functional pathways and adaptive responses including organism development, differentiation, disease states and aging. The identification of genes arranged in close proximity with each other within a particular temporal and spatial transcriptional program is anticipated to unravel possible functional links and reciprocal interactions.
The mouse monoclonal antibody (mAb) technology still represents a key source of reagents for research and clinical diagnosis, although it is relatively inefficient and expensive and therefore unsuitable for high-throughput production against a vast repertoire of antigens. In this article, we describe a protocol that combines the immunization of individual mice with complex mixtures of influenza virus strains and a microarray-based immunoassay procedure to perform a parallel screening against the viral antigens. The protocol involves testing the supernatants of somatic cell hybrids against a capture substratum containing an array of different antigens. For each fusion experiment, we carried out more than 25,000 antigen-antibody reactivity tests in less than a week, a throughput that is two orders of magnitude higher than that of traditional antibody detection assays such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and immunofluorescence. Using a limited number of mice, we can develop a vast repertoire of mAbs directed against nuclear and surface proteins of several human and avian influenza virus strains.
In the last 10 years the availability of the genome sequence of Anopheles gambiae and the development of a transgenic technology for several species of Anopheles mosquitoes have, in combination, helped in enabling us to gain several insights into the biology of these mosquitoes that is relevant to their capacity as vectors of the malaria parasite. While this information is anticipated to inform many novel vector control strategies, the technique most likely to benefit in the near future from the availability of a reliable transgenic technology is the sterile insect technique (SIT), which relies on releasing large numbers of sterile insects to compete for mates in the wild, leading to population suppression. Although SIT has been proven to work reliably for many insects, the construction of suitable strains, and induction of sterility, has until now been a laborious process, combining classical genetics with radiation-induced sterility. Using transgenesis to create strains of Anopheles suitable for SIT could potentially offer several advantages over current approaches, in that the basic design of transgenic constructs designed for other insects should be rapidly transferable to mosquitoes, and induction of sterility as a product of the transgenic modification could obviate the requirement for radiation and its associated deleterious effects. In this paper the progress of different transgenic approaches in constructing tools for SIT will be reviewed.
Plasmodium parasites lacking plasmepsin 4 (PM4), an aspartic protease that functions in the lysosomal compartment and contributes to hemoglobin digestion, have only a modest decrease in the asexual blood-stage growth rate; however, PM4 deficiency in the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei results in significantly less virulence than that for the parental parasite. P. berghei Deltapm4 parasites failed to induce experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) in ECM-susceptible mice, and ECM-resistant mice were able to clear infections. Furthermore, after a single infection, all convalescent mice were protected against subsequent parasite challenge for at least 1 year. Real-time in vivo parasite imaging and splenectomy experiments demonstrated that protective immunity acted through antibody-mediated parasite clearance in the spleen. This work demonstrates, for the first time, that a single Plasmodium gene disruption can generate virulence-attenuated parasites that do not induce cerebral complications and, moreover, are able to stimulate strong protective immunity against subsequent challenge with wild-type parasites. Parasite blood-stage attenuation should help identify protective immune responses against malaria, unravel parasite-derived factors involved in malarial pathologies, such as cerebral malaria, and potentially pave the way for blood-stage whole organism vaccines.
The last few years have witnessed a considerable expansion in the number of tools available to perform molecular and genetic studies on the genome of Anopheles mosquitoes, the vectors of human malaria. As a consequence, knowledge of aspects of the biology of mosquitoes, such as immunity, reproduction and behaviour, that are relevant to their ability to transmit disease is rapidly increasing, and could be translated into concrete benefits for malaria control strategies. Amongst the most important scientific advances, the development of transgenic technologies for Anopheles mosquitoes provides a crucial opportunity to improve current vector control measures or design novel ones. In particular, the use of genetic modification of the mosquito genome could provide for a more effective deployment of the sterile insect technique (SIT) against vector populations in the field. Currently, SIT relies on the release of radiation sterilized males, which compete with wild males for mating with wild females. The induction of sterility in males through the genetic manipulation of the mosquito genome, already achieved in a number of other insect species, could eliminate the need for radiation and increase the efficiency of SIT-based strategies. This paper provides an overview of the mechanisms already in use for inducing sterility by transgenesis in Drosophila and other insects, and speculates on possible ways to apply similar approaches to Anopheles mosquitoes.
The success of the sterile insect technique (SIT) and other genetic strategies designed to eliminate large populations of insects relies on the efficient inundative releases of competitive, sterile males into the natural habitat of the target species. As released sterile females do not contribute to the sterility in the field population, systems for the efficient mass production and separation of males from females are needed. For vector species like mosquitoes, in which only females bite and transmit diseases, the thorough removal of females before release while leaving males competent to mate is a stringent prerequisite. Biological, genetic and transgenic approaches have been developed that permit efficient male-female separation for some species considered for SIT. However, most sex separation methods have drawbacks and many of these methods are not directly transferable to mosquitoes. Unlike genetic and transgenic systems, biological methods that rely on sexually dimorphic characters, such as size or development rate, are subject to natural variation, requiring regular adjustment and re-calibration of the sorting systems used. The yield can be improved with the optimization of rearing, but the scale of mass production places practical limits on what is achievable, resulting in a poor rearing to output ratio. High throughput separation is best achieved with scalable genetic or transgenic approaches.
Immunization with irradiated Plasmodium sporozoites induces sterile immunity in rodents, monkeys and humans. The major surface component of the sporozoite the circumsporozoite protein (CS) long considered as the antigen predominantly responsible for this immunity, thus remains the leading candidate antigen for vaccines targeting the parasites pre-erythrocytic (PE) stages. However, this role for CS was questioned when we recently showed that immunization with irradiated sporozoites (IrrSpz) of a P. berghei line whose endogenous CS was replaced by that of P. falciparum still conferred sterile protection against challenge with wild type P. berghei sporozoites. In order to investigate the involvement of CS in the cross-species protection recently observed between the two rodent parasites P. berghei and P. yoelii, we adopted our gene replacement approach for the P. yoelii CS and exploited the ability to conduct reciprocal challenges. Overall, we found that immunization led to sterile immunity irrespective of the origin of the CS in the immunizing or challenge sporozoites. However, for some combinations, immune responses to CS contributed to the acquisition of protective immunity and were dependent on the immunizing IrrSpz dose. Nonetheless, when data from all the cross-species immunization/challenges were considered, the immune responses directed against non-CS parasite antigens shared by the two parasite species played a major role in the sterile protection induced by immunization with IrrSpz. This opens the perspective to develop a single vaccine formulation that could protect against multiple parasite species.
Germline specific promoters are an essential component of potential vector control strategies which function by genetic drive, however suitable promoters are not currently available for the main human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.
Discovering the molecular factors that shape the mating behaviour and the fertility of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, the principal vector of human malaria, is regarded as critical to better understand its reproductive success as well as for identifying new leads for malaria control measures. In A. gambiae mating induces complex behavioural and physiological changes in the females, including refractoriness to subsequent mating and induction of egg-laying. In other insects including Drosophila a group of proteins named Accessory gland proteins (Acps), produced by males and transferred with sperm to the female reproductive tract, have been implicated in this post-mating response. Although Acps represent a set of promising candidates for unravelling the mating physiology, their role in inducing behavioural changes in mated A. gambiae females remains largely unknown. In this work, we demonstrate that a down-regulation of a large fraction of Acp genes via silencing of the Acp regulating transcription factor Hsf, abolishes the formation of mating plug in mated females and fails to induce refractoriness of mated female to subsequent inseminations. A significant fraction of females mated to Hsf silenced males (66%) failed to receive the mating plug though seminal fluid had been transferred as documented by the presence of spermatozoa in the female sperm storage organ. Furthermore, nearly all females (95%) mated to HSF-silenced males were re-inseminated when exposed to males carrying EGPF marked sperm. Our findings provide evidence showing that Acp genes regulated by the transcription factor HSF play a key role in the function of the male accessory glands.
The worldwide burden of malaria remains a major public health problem due, in part, to the lack of an effective vaccine against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. An effective vaccine will most likely require the induction of antigen specific CD8(+) and CD4(+) T-cells as well as long-lasting antibody responses all working in concert to eliminate the infection. We report here the effective modification of a self-assembling protein nanoparticle (SAPN) vaccine previously proven effective in control of a P. berghei infection in a rodent model to now present B- and T-cell epitopes of the human malaria parasite P. falciparum in a platform capable of being used in human subjects.
In Drosophila, the accessory gland proteins (Acps) secreted from the male accessory glands (MAGs) and transferred along with sperm into the female reproductive tract have been implicated in triggering postmating behavioral changes, including refractoriness to subsequent mating and propensity to egg laying. Recently, Acps have been found also in Anopheles, suggesting similar functions. Understanding the mechanisms underlying transcriptional regulation of Acps and their functional role in modulating Anopheles postmating behavior may lead to the identification of novel vector control strategies to reduce mosquito populations. We identified heat-shock factor (HSF) binding sites within the Acp promoters of male Anopheles gambiae and discovered three distinct Hsf isoforms; one being significantly up-regulated in the MAGs after mating. Through genome-wide transcription analysis of Hsf-silenced males, we observed significant down-regulation in 50% of the Acp genes if compared to control males treated with a construct directed against an unrelated bacterial sequence. Treated males retained normal life span and reproductive behavior compared to control males. However, mated wild-type females showed a ?46% reduction of egg deposition rate and a ?23% reduction of hatching rate (?58% combined reduction of progeny). Our results highlight an unsuspected role of HSF in regulating Acp transcription in A. gambiae and provide evidence that Acp down-regulation in males leads a significant reduction of progeny, thus opening new avenues toward the development of novel vector control strategies.
In a number of organisms sex-biased genes are non-randomly distributed between autosomes and the shared sex chromosome X (or Z). Studies on Anopheles gambiae have produced conflicting results regarding the underrepresentation of male-biased genes on the X chromosome and it is unclear to what extent sexual antagonism, dosage compensation or X-inactivation in the male germline, the evolutionary forces that have been suggested to affect the chromosomal distribution of sex-biased genes, are operational in Anopheles.
The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) plays a key role in malaria sporozoite infection of both mosquito salivary glands and the vertebrate host. The conserved Regions I and II have been well studied but little is known about the immunogenic central repeat region and the N-terminal region of the protein. Rodent malaria Plasmodium berghei parasites, in which the endogenous CS gene has been replaced with the avian Plasmodium gallinaceum CS (PgCS) sequence, develop normally in the A. stephensi mosquito midgut but the sporozoites are not infectious. We therefore generated P. berghei transgenic parasites carrying the PgCS gene, in which the repeat region was replaced with the homologous region of P. berghei CS (PbCS). A further line, in which both the N-terminal region and repeat region were replaced with the homologous regions of PbCS, was also generated. Introduction of the PbCS repeat region alone, into the PgCS gene, did not rescue sporozoite species-specific infectivity. However, the introduction of both the PbCS repeat region and the N-terminal region into the PgCS gene completely rescued infectivity, in both the mosquito vector and the mammalian host. Immunofluorescence experiments and western blot analysis revealed correct localization and proteolytic processing of CSP in the chimeric parasites. The results demonstrate, in vivo, that the repeat region of P. berghei CSP, alone, is unable to mediate sporozoite infectivity in either the mosquito or the mammalian host, but suggest an important role for the N-terminal region in sporozoite host cell invasion.
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