A confinable female-lethal population suppression system in the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae

A. L. Smidler, J. J. Pai, R. A. Apte, H. M. Sánchez C, R. M. Corder, E. J. Gutiérrez, N. Thakre, I. Antoshechkin, J. M. Marshall and O. S. Akbari,  bioRxiv,  2022.08.30.505861. 2022.

Malaria is among the world’s deadliest diseases, predominantly affecting sub-Saharan Africa, and killing over half a million people annually. Controlling the principal vector, the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, as well as other anophelines, is among the most effective methods to control disease spread. Here we develop an innovative genetic population suppression system termed Ifegenia (Inherited Female Elimination by Genetically Encoded Nucleases to Interrupt Alleles) in this deadly vector. In this bicomponent CRISPR-based approach, we disrupt a female-essential gene, femaleless (fle), demonstrating complete genetic sexing via heritable daughter gynecide. Moreover, we show that Ifegenia males remain reproductively viable, and can load both fle mutations and CRISPR machinery to induce fle mutations in subsequent generations, resulting in sustained population suppression. Through modeling, we demonstrate that iterative releases of non-biting Ifegenia males can act as an effective, confinable, controllable, and safe population suppression and elimination system.

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