Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New molecular target for malaria control identified

Date:
October 29, 2013
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
A new study has shown that egg development in the mosquito species primarily responsible for spreading malaria depends on a switch in the female that is turned on by a male hormone delivered during sex. Blocking the activation of this switch could impair the ability of the species, Anopheles gambiae, to reproduce, and may be a viable future strategy for mosquito and malaria control.

A new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of Perugia (UNIPG) researchers has shown that egg development in the mosquito species primarily responsible for spreading malaria depends on a switch in the female that is turned on by a male hormone delivered during sex. Blocking the activation of this switch could impair the ability of the species, Anopheles gambiae, to reproduce, and may be a viable future strategy for mosquito and malaria control.

The study appears online October 29, 2013 in PLoS Biology.

"These findings represent a significant step forward in our understanding of how these devastating malaria vectors reproduce," said Flaminia Catteruccia, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at HSPH and UNIPG.

Malaria is a leading cause of death in tropical and subtropical regions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria claims nearly 660,000 lives per year, 90% of them in Africa -- and most of them children. There were an estimated 216 million malaria cases worldwide in 2010, mostly among pregnant women and children.

The researchers based their investigation on existing knowledge about Anopheles gambiae, a highly efficient vector of the malaria parasite because those mosquitoes primarily feed on human blood and have a remarkably high reproductive rate.

The researchers studied the interaction between a steroid hormone called 20-hydroxy-ecdysone, or 20E -- which is transferred from the male to the female mosquito during mating -- and a female "Mating-Induced Stimulator of Oogenesis," or MISO, protein. (Oogenesis is the creation of an egg cell.)

They used chemical techniques to suppress MISO's functioning in female mosquitoes and found that doing so reduced egg development. They also found that MISO and 20E interact in the female mosquito's reproductive tract. Further, they identified the pathway through which 20E affects MISO. The 20E-MISO interaction boosts the accumulation of lipids in the ovaries, leading to a more rapid and higher production of eggs.

The researchers found that egg development depends on a switch -- the MISO protein -- in the female that is turned on by a male hormone delivered during sex. Male-transferred 20E essentially acts as a "mating signal" for the female to produce more eggs. "How males contributed to egg development had been previously unknown; with the identification of the molecular players of this male-female interaction we can now find ways to switch off the signal and prevent females from reproducing," said Catteruccia.

This new finding holds promise for the development of new tools for controlling malaria-transmitting mosquito populations, the researchers said.

"This is the first time, in any insect species, that a male hormone has been shown to directly interact with a female protein and alter the ability of the female to reproduce," said co-author Francesco Baldini, a UNIPG graduate student who performed part of the analyses as a visiting scientist at HSPH.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francesco Baldini, Paolo Gabrieli, Adam South, Clarissa Valim, Francesca Mancini, Flaminia Catteruccia. The Interaction between a Sexually Transferred Steroid Hormone and a Female Protein Regulates Oogenesis in the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae. PLoS Biology, 2013; 11 (10): e1001695 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001695

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "New molecular target for malaria control identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029171844.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013, October 29). New molecular target for malaria control identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029171844.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "New molecular target for malaria control identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029171844.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. 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:
from the past week

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