Anti-CRISPR Anopheles mosquitoes inhibit gene drive spread under challenging behavioural conditions in large cages

D’Amato, R., Taxiarchi, C., Galardini, M. et al.,  Nature Communications,  15:952. 2024.

CRISPR-based gene drives have the potential to spread within populations and are considered as promising vector control tools. A doublesex-targeting gene drive was able to suppress laboratory Anopheles mosquito populations in small and large cages, and it is considered for field application. Challenges related to the field-use of gene drives and the evolving regulatory framework suggest that systems able to modulate or revert the action of gene drives, could be part of post-release risk-mitigation plans. In this study, we challenge an AcrIIA4-based anti-drive to inhibit gene drive spread in age-structured Anopheles gambiae population under complex feeding and behavioural conditions. A stochastic model predicts the experimentally-observed genotype dynamics in age-structured populations in medium-sized cages and highlights the necessity of large-sized cage trials. These experiments and experimental-modelling framework demonstrate the effectiveness of the anti-drive in different scenarios, providing further corroboration for its use in controlling the spread of gene drive in Anopheles.

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