Targeting Gene Expression to the Female Larval Fat Body of Transgenic Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes

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hexamerin, regulated gene expression, mosquito, fat body, female specificity

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As the fat body is a critical tissue for mosquito development, metamorphosis, immune and reproductive system function, the characterization of regulatory modules targeting gene expression to the female mosquito fat body at distinct life stages is much needed for multiple, varied strategies for controlling vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. The hexameric storage protein, Hexamerin-1.2, of the mosquito Aedes atropalpus is female-specific and uniquely expressed in the fat body of fourth instar larvae and young adults. We have identified in the Hex-1.2 gene, a short regulatory module that directs female-, tissue-, and stage-specific lacZ reporter gene expression using a heterologous promoter in transgenic lines of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. Male transgenic larvae and pupae of one line expressed no Escherichia coli β-galactosidase or transgene product; in two other lines reporter gene activity was highly female-biased. All transgenic lines expressed the reporter only in the fat body; however, lacZ mRNA levels were no different in males and females at any stage examined, suggesting that the gene regulatory module drives female-specific expression by post-transcriptional regulation in the heterologous mosquito. This regulatory element from the Hex-1.2 gene thus provides a new molecular tool for transgenic mosquito control as well as functional genetic analysis in aedine mosquitoes.

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Insect Molecular Biology, v. 22, issue 1, p. 18-30