Reproduction in mosquitoes, like all animals, is a tightly regulated process that involves coordination of several physiological events including nutrient uptake and egg maturation. The neuropeptide ovary ecdysteroidogenic hormone (OEH) - released from the brain after a bloodmeal - has been demonstrated to be a master regulator of reproduction in mosquitoes. In concert with insulin-like peptides (ILPs), OEH stimulates the release of ecdysteroids from the mosquito ovaries, which then stimulate events leading to the maturation of an egg clutch. Deprivation of OEH from bloodfed mosquitoes completely arrests reproduction, and is a promising target for disruption strategies. Unlike ILPs, OEH lacks a characterized receptor and the signaling pathway triggered by OEH and leading to ecdysteroid release is unknown. Utilizing a comparative genomics and functional approach, I have identified a candidate OEH receptor in Aedes aegypti named R1915. To elucidate the role of R1915 in OEH signaling, I propose the following 3 aims: 1) biochemically confirm R1915 is the OEH receptor and fully assess spatiotemporal expression of the receptor, 2) characterize the signaling pathway of OEH, and 3) assess how OEH and R1915 influence reproductive processes including bloodmeal digestion and ovary maturation. The results of this research will provide insights into the regulation of reproduction in mosquitoes, providing new targets for strategies to disrupt mosquito-vectored disease transmission.
Mosquitoes transmit several major human diseases including malaria and Dengue fever virus. Interruption of mosquito-vectored transmission of pathogens and efforts to disrupt mosquito reproduction are two strategies for reducing disease prevalence in humans. My work on the hormonal control of mosquito reproduction will provide new fundamental insights into insect endocrinology and a promising new avenue for disrupting disease transmission.
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