Female mosquitoes into non-biting males
female mosquitoes into nonbiting males
with implications for mosquito control.Virginia Techscientists have demonstrated that one gene may convert Aedes aegyptimosquitoes
to fertile male mosquitoes and identified a gene required for male mosquito flight.
Male mosquitoes do not bite and are unable to transmit pathogens to humans.
Female Aedes aegypti -Female mosquitoes
femalemosquitoes require blood to produce eggs, which makes them the primefemale mosquitoes
carriers of the pathogens that cause Zika and dengue fever in people.
“The existence of a male-determining locus (M locus) establishesfemale mosquitoes
the male sexual at Aedes aegypti, and also the M locus is just inherited by the male offspring
, much like the human Y chromosome,” explained Zhijian Tu
, a professor at the Department of Biochemistry at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“By inserting Nix, a previously discovered male-determining receptor
at the M locus of Aedes aegypti,non biting into a chromosomal region
that could be inherited by females
, we revealed that Nix alone was sufficient to convert females into fertile males
This may have consequences for developing future mosquito management techniques.”
“We also discovered a second gene, called my-sex, was needed for man flight.
This work sheds light into the molecular basis
of the purpose of the M locus, which contains at least 30 genes,
” said Azadeh Aryan, a research scientist in
Tu’s lab and the primary author on the paper.
Aryan and colleagues
generated and characterized multiple transgenic
mosquito lines which expressed an additional copy
of this Nix gene under the control of its own promoter.
The Virginia Tech team, in collaboration with Zach Adelman’s
laboratory in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University
and Chunhong Mao of the Biocomplexity Institute
and also Initiative at the University of Virginia
found that the Nix transgene alone, despite the M locus,
was sufficient to convert females into men
with male-specific sexually dimorphic attributes and male-like gene expression.
“Nix-mediated sex conversion was shown to be highly penetrant
and stable over many generations in the lab,
meaning that these characteristics will be inherited for centuries to come,” said Michelle Anderson, a former member of their
Adelman and Tu labs and currently a senior research
scientist in the Pirbright Institute in the uk.
Although the Nix gene was able to convert the females to men
, the transformed males couldn’t fly as they didn’t inherit the myo-sex gene,
which can be located in the M locus.
Knocking out my-sex in wild-type males confirmed
the lack of my-sex in the sex-converted males
is the reason why they could not fly.
“Nix has excellent potential for developing mosquito
control strategies to decrease vector populations
through female-to-male sex conversion,
Genetic procedures that rely on mating to control mosquitoes target only one particular species.
But more research is necessary before possibly
“Among the challenges is to produce transgenic lines
that convert females into plump, flying male mosquitoes by integrating
the Nix and my-sex genes into their genome collectively,” said Adelman.
Since the Tu team appears to the not too distant future,
they desire to explore the mechanism
where the Nix gene triggers the male developmental pathway.
“We have discovered that the Nix gene
is present in other Aedes mosquitoes
. The question is: how did this gene as well as also the sex-determining locus evolve in mosquitoes?
Said Tu, who is also an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
Along with dive to the depths of this Nix gene in mosquitoes
, researchers expect that these findings will inform future