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Researchers identified a gene in mosquitoes that moderates their susceptibility to malaria parasite infection. 

Mar 9, 2018
The Scientist Staff

A. gambiae transgenic larva Y. DONG ET AL.Researchers reported yesterday (March 8) in PLOS Pathogens that inactivating the gene FREP1 reduced mosquitoes’ (Anopheles gambiae) susceptibility to Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria in humans.

When an A. gambiae mosquito consumes a Plasmodium in a blood meal, the parasite goes through a complex infection cycle as it travels to its host’s salivary gland, from where it infects humans. The Plasmodium’s ability to complete this cycle relies on the activity of several of the mosquito’s proteins. Using CRISPR-Cas9, the team from Johns Hopkins University inactivated the gene encoding fibrinogen-related protein 1 (FREP1), a target they had previously identified as being involved in the infection process. They found that knocking out the gene suppressed Plasmodium infection in mosquitoes. In their paper, the researchers write that the technique is “a potentially powerful approach” to generating infection-resistant mosquitoes.

Y. Dong et al., “CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knockout of Anopheles gambiae FREP1 suppresses malaria parasite infection,” PLOS Pathogens, doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1006898, 2018.