A Y chromosome-linked genome editor for efficient population suppression in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae

Ignacio Tolosana, Katie Willis, Austin Burt, Matthew Gribble, Tony Nolan, Andrea Crisanti, Federica Bernardini,  bioRxiv,  2024.

Genetic control – the deliberate introduction of genetic traits to control a pest or vector population – offers a powerful tool to augment conventional mosquito control tools that have been successful in reducing malaria burden but that are compromised by a range of operational challenges. Self-sustaining genetic control strategies have shown great potential in laboratory settings but hesitancy due to their invasive and persistent nature may delay their implementation. Here instead we describe a self-limiting strategy, designed to have geographically and/or temporally restricted effect, based on a Y chromosome-linked genome editor (YLE). The YLE comprises a CRISPR-Cas9 construct that is always inherited by males yet generates an autosomal dominant mutation that is transmitted to over 90% of the offspring and results in female-specific sterility. Males are unaffected. To our knowledge, our system represents the first engineering of the Y chromosome to generate a genetic control strain for mosquitoes. Mathematical modelling shows that this YLE technology is up to 8 times more efficient for population suppression than optimal versions of other self-limiting strategies.

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