C-type lectin 4 regulates broad-spectrum melanization-based refractoriness to malaria parasites

M. L. Simões, Y. Dong, G. Mlambo and G. Dimopoulos,  PLOS Biology,  20:e3001515. 2022.

Anopheles gambiae melanization-based refractoriness to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has rarely been observed in either laboratory or natural conditions, in contrast to the rodent model malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei that can become completely melanized by a TEP1 complement-like system-dependent mechanism. Multiple studies have shown that the rodent parasite evades this defense by recruiting the C-type lectins CTL4 and CTLMA2, while permissiveness to the human malaria parasite was not affected by partial depletion of these factors by RNAi silencing. Using CRISPR/Cas9-based CTL4 knockout, we show that Agambiae can mount melanization-based refractoriness to the human malaria parasite, which is independent of the TEP1 complement-like system and the major anti-Plasmodium immune pathway Imd. Our study indicates a hierarchical specificity in the control of Plasmodium melanization and proves CTL4 as an essential host factor for Pfalciparum transmission and one of the most potent mosquito-encoded malaria transmission-blocking targets.

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