Researchers are creating new CRISPR tools to help contain the transmission of mosquito diseases

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Larva of the vasa-Cas9 Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito line, which was generated as part of a new set of genetic tools designed to help stop the transmission of mosquito disease. The image shows the bright fluorescent protein used to trace transgenic elements. Credit: Gantz Lab, UC San Diego

Since the beginning of the CRISPR genetic editing revolution, scientists have been working to harness technology to develop gene impulses targeting mosquitoes that spread pathogens, such as the Anopheles and Aedes species, which spread malaria. dengue and other life-threatening diseases.

Much less genetic engineering has been devoted to the genus Culex , which spread devastating afflictions from the West Nile virus, the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States, as well as other viruses such as the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and the pathogen that causes malaria. avian, a threat to Hawaii birds.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have now developed several genetic editing tools that help pave the way for a possible genetic generation designed to prevent Culex mosquitoes from spreading the disease. Genetic units are designed to spread modified , in this case, those that disable the ability to transmit pathogens to the entire target wild population.

As detailed in the magazine Communications on nature, Xuechun Feng, Valentino Gantz, and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories developed a Cas9 / guide-RNA expression “toolkit” designed for Culex mosquitoes. From so little attention to has been dedicated to Culex mosquitoes, researchers had to develop their toolkit from scratch, starting with a careful examination of the Culex genome.






“My co-authors and I believe our work will be impactful for scientists working on the vector biology of Culex disease, as new genetic tools are needed in this field,” said Gantz, assistant researcher in the Division of Biological Sciences from UC San Diego. “We also believe that the scientific community beyond the field of gene unity will successfully welcome these findings, as they could be of great interest.”

Although Culex mosquitoes are less problematic in the United States, they pose a much greater health risk in Africa and Asia, where they transmit the worm that causes filariasis, a disease that can lead to a debilitating chronic condition known as elephantiasis. .

The researchers also showed that their tools could work on other insects.

Researchers are creating new CRISPR tools to help contain the transmission of mosquito diseases

Larvae of the vasa-Cas9 Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito line, which was generated as part of a new set of genetic tools designed to help stop the transmission of mosquito disease. The image shows the bright fluorescent protein used to trace transgenic elements. Credit: Gantz Lab, UC San Diego

“These modified gRNAs may increase gene unit yield in the fruit fly and could potentially offer better alternatives for future gene generation and generation products in other species,” Gantz said.

Gantz and colleagues have tested their new tools to ensure proper gene expression of CRISPR components and are now about to apply them to a genetic boost in Culex mosquitoes. This construction of a gene unit could be used to stop the transmission of pathogens by Culex mosquitoes or, alternatively, to be used to suppress the mosquito population to prevent the bite.


Simple genetic modification aims to prevent mosquitoes from spreading malaria


More information:
Xuechun Feng et al, optimized CRISPR tools and site-directed transgenesis towards the development of the gene unit in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, Communications on Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-23239-0

CitationResearchers create new CRISPR tools to help contain mosquito disease transmission (2021, May 28), retrieved May 29, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-crispr-tools- mosquito-disease-transmission.html

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