Anopheles gambiae M and S molecular forms, the major malaria vectors in the Afro-tropical region, are ongoing a process of ecological diversification and adaptive lineage splitting, which is affecting malaria transmission and vector control strategies in West Africa. These two incipient species are defined on the basis of single nucleotide differences in the IGS and ITS regions of multicopy rDNA located on the X-chromosome. A number of PCR and PCR-RFLP approaches based on form-specific SNPs in the IGS region are used for M and S identification. Moreover, a PCR-method to detect the M-specific insertion of a short interspersed transposable element (SINE200) has recently been introduced as an alternative identification approach. However, a large-scale comparative analysis of four widely used PCR or PCR-RFLP genotyping methods for M and S identification was never carried out to evaluate whether they could be used interchangeably, as commonly assumed.
The Anopheles gambiae gSG6 is an anopheline-specific salivary protein which helps female mosquitoes to efficiently feed on blood. Besides its role in haematophagy, gSG6 is immunogenic and elicits in exposed individuals an IgG response, which may be used as indicator of exposure to the main African malaria vector A. gambiae. However, malaria transmission in tropical Africa is sustained by three main vectors (A. gambiae, Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles funestus) and a general marker, reflecting exposure to at least these three species, would be especially valuable. The SG6 protein is highly conserved within the A. gambiae species complex whereas the A. funestus homologue, fSG6, is more divergent (80% identity with gSG6). The aim of this study was to evaluate cross-reactivity of human sera to gSG6 and fSG6.
Salivary proteins injected by blood feeding arthropods into their hosts evoke a saliva-specific humoral response which can be useful to evaluate exposure to bites of disease vectors. However, saliva of hematophagous arthropods is a complex cocktail of bioactive factors and its use in immunoassays can be misleading because of potential cross-reactivity to other antigens. Toward the development of a serological marker of exposure to Afrotropical malaria vectors we expressed the Anopheles gambiae gSG6, a small anopheline-specific salivary protein, and we measured the anti-gSG6 IgG response in individuals from a malaria hyperendemic area of Burkina Faso, West Africa. The gSG6 protein was immunogenic and anti-gSG6 IgG levels and/or prevalence increased in exposed individuals during the malaria transmission/rainy season. Moreover, this response dropped during the intervening low transmission/dry season, suggesting it is sensitive enough to detect variation in vector density. Members of the Fulani ethnic group showed higher anti-gSG6 IgG response as compared to Mossi, a result consistent with the stronger immune reactivity reported in this group. Remarkably, anti-gSG6 IgG levels among responders were high in children and gradually declined with age. This unusual pattern, opposite to the one observed with Plasmodium antigens, is compatible with a progressive desensitization to mosquito saliva and may be linked to the continued exposure to bites of anopheline mosquitoes. Overall, the humoral anti-gSG6 IgG response appears a reliable serological indicator of exposure to bites of the main African malaria vectors (An. gambiae, Anopheles arabiensis and, possibly, Anopheles funestus) and it may be exploited for malaria epidemiological studies, development of risk maps and evaluation of anti-vector measures. In addition, the gSG6 protein may represent a powerful model system to get a deeper understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the immune tolerance and progressive desensitization to insect salivary allergens.
The main Afrotropical malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto, is undergoing a process of sympatric ecological diversification leading to at least two incipient species (the M and S molecular forms) showing heterogeneous levels of divergence across the genome. The physically unlinked centromeric regions on all three chromosomes of these closely related taxa contain fixed nucleotide differences which have been found in nearly complete linkage disequilibrium in geographic areas of no or low M-S hybridization. Assays diagnostic for SNP and structural differences between M and S forms in the three centromeric regions were applied in samples from the western extreme of their range of sympatry, the only area where high frequencies of putative M/S hybrids have been reported. The results reveal a level of admixture not observed in the rest of the range. In particular, we found: i) heterozygous genotypes at each marker, although at frequencies lower than expected under panmixia; ii) virtually all possible genotypic combinations between markers on different chromosomes, although genetic association was nevertheless detected; iii) discordant M and S genotypes at two X-linked markers near the centromere, suggestive of introgression and inter-locus recombination. These results could be indicative either of a secondary contact zone between M and S, or of the maintenance of ancestral polymorphisms. This issue and the perspectives opened by these results in the study of the M and S incipient speciation process are discussed.
The Fulani of west Africa have been shown to be less susceptible to malaria and to mount a stronger immune response to malaria than sympatric ethnic groups. The analysis of HLA diversity is useful for the assessment of the genetic distance between the Fulani and sympatric populations, which represents the necessary theoretical background for the investigation of genetic determinants of susceptibility to malaria. We assessed the polymorphism of HLA-DRB1 and -DQB1 loci and analyzed the distribution of alleles/haplotypes in Fulani, Mossi, and Rimaibé from Burkina Faso. We then investigated the genetic relationship of these three ethnic groups with other sub-Saharan African populations as well as with Europeans. We confirmed that the Fulani from Burkina Faso are genetically distinct from sympatric Mossi and Rimaibé. Furthermore the Fulani from Burkina Faso are close to those from The Gambia and, intriguingly, share the distribution of specific alleles with east African populations (Amhara and Oromo). It is noteworthy that the HLA-DRB1*04 and -DQB1*02 alleles, which are implicated in the development of several autoimmune diseases, are present at high frequency in the Fulani, suggesting their potential involvement in the enhanced immune reactivity observed in this population.
The Anopheles gambiae salivary gland protein 6 (gSG6) is a small protein specifically found in the salivary glands of adult female mosquitoes. We report here the expression of a recombinant form of the protein and we show that in vivo gSG6 is expressed in distal-lateral lobes and is secreted with the saliva while the female mosquito probes for feeding. Injection of gSG6 dsRNA into adult A. gambiae females results in decreased gSG6 protein levels, increased probing time and reduced blood feeding ability. gSG6 orthologs have been found so far only in the salivary glands of Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles funestus, both members of the Cellia subgenus. We report here the gSG6 sequence from five additional anophelines, four species of the A. gambiae complex and Anopheles freeborni, a member of the subgenus Anopheles. We conclude that gSG6 plays some essential blood feeding role and was recruited in the anopheline subfamily most probably after the separation of the lineage which gave origin to Cellia and Anopheles subgenera.
The main constraint to the fight against container-breeding mosquito vectors of human arboviruses is the difficulty in targeting the multiplicity of larval sources, mostly represented by small man-made water containers. The aim of this work is to assess the feasibility of the "auto-dissemination" approach, already tested for Aedes aegypti, as a possible alternative to traditional, inefficient control tools, against Ae. albopictus in urban areas. The approach is based on the possibility that wild adult females, exposed to artificial resting sites contaminated with pyriproxyfen, can disseminate this juvenile hormone analogue to larval habitats, thus interfering with adult emergence.
Anopheles melas is a brackish water-breeding member of the Anopheles gambiae complex that is distributed along the coast of West Africa and is a major malaria vector within its range. Because little is known about the population structure of this species, we analysed 15 microsatellite markers and 1161 bp of mtDNA in 11 A. melas populations collected throughout its range. Compared with its sibling species A. gambiae, A. melas populations have a high level of genetic differentiation between them, representing its patchy distribution due to its fragmented larval habitat that is associated with mangroves and salt marsh grass. Populations clustered into three distinct groups representing Western Africa, Southern Africa and Bioko Island populations that appear to be mostly isolated. Fixed differences in the mtDNA are present between all three clusters, and a Bayesian clustering analysis of the microsatellite data found no evidence for migration from mainland to Bioko Island populations, and little migration was evident between the Southern to the Western cluster. Surprisingly, mtDNA divergence between the three A. melas clusters is on par with levels of divergence between other species of the A. gambiae complex, and no support for monophyly was observed in a maximum-likelihood phylogenetic analysis. Finally, an approximate Bayesian analysis of microsatellite data indicates that Bioko Island A. melas populations were connected to the mainland populations in the past, but became isolated, presumably when sea levels rose after the last glaciation period (?10 000-11 000 bp). This study has exposed species-level genetic divergence within A. melas and also has implications for control of this malaria vector.
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