Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers alter mosquito genome with goal of controlling disease

Date:
March 21, 2013
Source:
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Summary:
With a technique called TALENS, scientists used a pair of engineered proteins to disrupt a targeted gene in the mosquito genome, changing the eye color of ensuing generations of the insect. The method might help scientists find ways control disease transmission.

Virginia Tech researchers successfully used a gene disruption technique to change the eye color of a mosquito -- a critical step toward new genetic strategies aimed at disrupting the transmission of diseases such as dengue fever. The varied colors of the eyes of these mosquitoes, modified using TALEN technology, is because of cell-to-cell variability in the degree of gene editing.
Credit: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech researchers successfully used a gene disruption technique to change the eye color of a mosquito -- a critical step toward new genetic strategies aimed at disrupting the transmission of diseases such as dengue fever.

Related Articles


Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles, both associate professors of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and affiliated researchers with the Fralin Life Science Institute, study the transmission of vector-borne diseases and develop novel methods of control, based on genetics.

In a groundbreaking study published this week in the journal PLOS One, the scientists used a pair of engineered proteins to cut DNA in a site-specific manner to disrupt a targeted gene in the mosquito genome. Science magazine heralded these transcription activator-like effector nuclease proteins, known as TALENS, as a major scientific breakthrough in 2012, nicknaming them "genomic cruise missiles" for their ability to allow researchers to target specific locations with great efficiency.

While TALENS have been previously used to edit the genomes of animal and human cell cultures, applying them to the mosquito genome is a new approach, according to Adelman.

"Unlike model organisms with large collections of mutant strains to draw upon, the lack of reverse genetic tools in the mosquito has made it is very difficult to assign functions to genes in a definitive manner," Adelman said. "With the development of this technology, our understanding of the genetic basis of many critical behaviors such as blood-feeding, host-seeking and pathogen transmission should be greatly accelerated."

To test the capability of TALENs to specifically edit the mosquito genome, the scientists designed a pair of TALENS to target a gene whose protein product is essential to the production of eye pigmentation in Aedes aegypti, a mosquito species known for its transmission of the viruses that cause dengue fever.

Using the TALEN pair to edit the gene in the mosquito's germ cells early in development, they were able to change the eye color of a large percentage of the mosquitoes arising in the next generation from black to white.

"To date, efforts to control dengue transmission through genetics have focused entirely on adding material to the mosquito genome. Ensuring that this added material is expressed properly and consistently has been a challenge," Adelman said. "This technology allows us to pursue the same goals, namely, the generation of pathogen-resistant mosquitoes, through subtraction. For example, removing or altering a gene that is critical for pathogen replication."

"Aedes mosquitoes have become increasingly important as vectors of disease from a public health perspective," said George Dimopoulos, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at John Hopkins University who was not involved in the study. "The lack of vaccines and drugs for dengue has left the mosquitoes that carry the virus as one of the most promising targets for controlling the disease. A better understanding of how the virus infects the mosquito and other biological properties of the insect will be required to develop intervention strategies that can block virus transmission by the mosquito. The ability to genetically engineer mosquitoes is essential for the study of such biological functions. The TALEN-based system in mosquitoes that that was developed by Dr. Adelman provides this important capacity."

Co-authors of the study include Azadeh Aryan, a Ph.D. student in the department of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Michelle A.E. Anderson, a research technician in the department of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Azadeh Aryan, Michelle A. E. Anderson, Kevin M. Myles, Zach N. Adelman. TALEN-Based Gene Disruption in the Dengue Vector Aedes aegypti. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e60082 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060082

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Researchers alter mosquito genome with goal of controlling disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321204809.htm>.
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). (2013, March 21). Researchers alter mosquito genome with goal of controlling disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321204809.htm
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Researchers alter mosquito genome with goal of controlling disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321204809.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

AFP (Jan. 29, 2015) Oxfam International has called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola "Marshall Plan", with financial support given by wealthy countries, to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Health Officials Campaign Against E-Cigarettes

Calif. Health Officials Campaign Against E-Cigarettes

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The California Health Department says e-cigarettes are a public health risk for both smokers and those who inhale e-cig smoke secondhand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) Officials say 66 students at a Southern California high school have been told to stay home through the end of next week because they may have been exposed to measles and are not vaccinated. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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