Anopheles mosquitoes are the primary vectors of malaria, one of humankind's most deadly and costly diseases. Malaria control measures are under increasing threat as drug- and insecticide- resistance spreads. Recently developed genomic resources and genetic methods provide unprecedented opportunities to improve our understanding of mosquito biology and develop new strategies to combat malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. Y chromosome remains unexplored in Anopheles mosquitoes despite its importance in male determination and other aspects of male biology. Since blood feeding and, consequently, the transmission of disease pathogens is the sole province to female mosquitoes, it is critical to release only males when implementing genetic approaches for reducing mosquito populations or for replacing competent vector populations with populations that are refractory to disease transmission. Overcoming technical bottlenecks, we have recently uncovered four Y genes in An. stephensi. Among these, Guy1 is the best candidate for the male-determining M factor. Multiple Guy1-expressing transgenic lines were generated, which produced 6520 transgenic males and 0 transgenic females over multiple generations. Our preliminary data also suggest that the observed 100% female lethality in the Guy1 transgenic An. stephensi may result from mis-regulation of dosage compensation. Importantly, three known master switches of sex-determination, sex-lethal, Fem/Masc, xo-lethal 1, also directly or indirectly regulate dosage compensation in Drosophila melanogaster, Bombyx mori, and Caenorhabditis elegans, respectively. Loss of function sex- lethal alleles and knockdown of the target of Masc cause female embryonic lethality in D. melanogaster and B. mori, respectively. Here, we will test the hypothesis that the An. stephensi Guy1 is a master regulator of either sex-determination or dosage compensation or both. We will pursue the following specific aims: 1) To determine whether Guy1 controls dosage compensation and/or sex-determination; 2) To delineate the molecular mechanism underlying Guy1 function; and 3) To exploit Guy1 transgenics as a means for sex separation and population reduction in Anopheles mosquitoes.

Public Health Relevance

Malaria is transmitted only by female Anopheles mosquitoes as males do not bite. The goal of this project is to study Y chromosome genes, which are known to regulate sex determination, spermatogenesis, and sexual behavior in many species. A better understanding of Y genes will enable novel strategies to control mosquito-borne diseases by manipulating mosquito sex ratio or sexual reproduction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Vector Biology Study Section (VB)
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Costero-Saint Denis, Adriana
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
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Wu, Yang; Hu, Wanqi; Biedler, James K et al. (2018) Pure early zygotic genes in the Asian malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi. Parasit Vectors 11:652
Jiang, X; Hall, A B; Biedler, J K et al. (2017) Single molecule RNA sequencing uncovers trans-splicing and improves annotations in Anopheles stephensi. Insect Mol Biol 26:298-307
Criscione, Frank; Qi, Yumin; Tu, Zhijian (2016) GUY1 confers complete female lethality and is a strong candidate for a male-determining factor in Anopheles stephensi. Elife 5: