Molecular Ecology Resources

A framework for identifying fertility gene targets for mammalian pest control

Clark, A. C., Edison, R., Esvelt, K., Kamau, S., Dutoit, L., Champer, J., Champer, S. E., Messer, P. W., Alexander, A., & Gemmell, N. J.,  Molecular Ecology Resources,  00:1–14. 2023.

Fertility-targeted gene drives have been proposed as an ethical genetic approach for managing wild populations of vertebrate pests for public health and conservation benefit. This manuscript introduces a framework to identify and evaluate target gene suitability based on biological gene function, gene expression and results from mouse knockout models. This framework identified 16 genes essential for male fertility and 12 genes important for female fertility that may be feasible targets for mammalian gene drives and other non-drive genetic pest control technology. Further, a comparative genomics analysis demonstrates the conservation of the identified genes across several globally significant invasive mammals. In addition to providing important considerations for identifying candidate genes, our framework and the genes identified in this study may have utility in developing additional pest control tools such as wildlife contraceptives.


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