Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Meddling with male malaria mosquito 'mating plug' to control an epidemic

Date:
August 19, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
Using information about the unique mating practices of the male malaria mosquito - which, unlike any other insect, inserts a plug to seal its sperm inside the female - scientists are zeroing in on a birth-control drug for Anopheles mosquitoes, deadly carriers of the disease that threatens 3 billion people, has infected more than 215 million and kills 655,000 annually.

Using information about the unique mating practices of the male malaria mosquito ― which, unlike any other insect, inserts a plug to seal its sperm inside the female ― scientists are zeroing in on a birth-control drug for Anopheles mosquitoes, deadly carriers of the disease that threatens 3 billion people, has infected more than 215 million and kills 655,000 annually.

Related Articles


They reported on August 19 at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia on development of an approach for screening substances that could prevent formation of the plug, thus preventing mosquitoes from reproducing and spreading malaria.

Richard H. G. Baxter, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at Yale University, who presented the report, described the search for a new birth-control strategy for mosquitoes. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes mate in airborne swarms, but only females bite and feed on blood from people ― the bite that transmits the malaria parasite to humans. To ensure mating success, an Anopheles male produces a special "mating plug" to seal its sperm inside the female's mating chamber. The Yale researchers purified the specific enzyme, a transglutaminase, responsible for coagulating another protein called Plugin within the male's seminal fluid to form the plug. They went on to purify the Plugin protein and reconstitute the coagulation reaction in the lab, setting the stage to search for chemicals that inhibit this reaction.

The technology is based on a discovery about the plug in 2009 by Flaminia Catteruccia, Ph.D., then at Imperial College London. Catteruccia's research detailed the biochemical composition of the plug, identified the transglutaminase enzyme and showed that blocking the enzyme prevents females from storing sperm to fertilize their eggs. Catteruccia, now at the Harvard School of Public Health, is collaborating with Baxter and his team at Yale to translate that knowledge into technology to put a dent in the population of malaria mosquitoes.

"We have completed the necessary groundwork to start screening for chemicals that inhibit the enzyme," Baxter explained. "I think that there's a good chance that we will find a compound because there are many existing compounds that inhibit other transglutaminases. Ideally, it would be a substance that could be fed to males, sterilizing them so that they mate but no offspring result. It's a well-established biological insect-control technology called the sterile insect technique and has been used for decades."

The sterile insect technique was first used to control the screwworm fly in the southern United States and other areas. The screwworm fly was once responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to the cattle industry and consumers. The approach is used against tsetse flies in Africa that transmit sleeping sickness and can be effective against mosquitoes, which mate only once or twice in their lifetime. Male mosquitoes would be reared under controlled conditions, fed a transglutaminase inhibitor and released to mate with wild females, reducing the population without the use of insecticides.

The new approach may help to deploy the sterile insect technique against mosquitoes by overcoming previous logistical and environmental concerns. "By developing a chemical that is specific to the Anopheles mosquito and applied in a contained environment, we can minimize both cost and environmental impact," says Baxter. The technology is compatible with other methods such as genetic modification, pioneered by the British firm Oxitec.

The sterile insect technique is a different approach than traditional malaria control strategies, such as the indoor spraying of insecticides and the use of insecticide-treated bed nets. "Mosquitoes are adapting to the traditional control measures," warns Baxter. "They are becoming resistant to the commonly used insecticides such as DDT and pyrethroids, and they are avoiding bed nets by biting during the day and out-of-doors. The sterile insect technique moves us away from trying to deliver chemicals to female mosquitoes by spreading them around people. Instead, we feed a chemical to the male, and he finds the females for us."

The scientists acknowledge support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID Career Development Award, K22AI085112-01).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Meddling with male malaria mosquito 'mating plug' to control an epidemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120819211153.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2012, August 19). Meddling with male malaria mosquito 'mating plug' to control an epidemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120819211153.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Meddling with male malaria mosquito 'mating plug' to control an epidemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120819211153.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins