CRISPR-based gene drives generate super-Mendelian inheritance in the disease vector Culex quinquefasciatus

T. Harvey-Samuel, X. Feng, E. M. Okamoto, D.-K. Purusothaman, P. T. Leftwich, L. Alphey and V. M. Gantz,  bioRxiv,  2023.06.12.544656. 2023.

Culex mosquitoes pose a significant public health threat as vectors for a variety of diseases including West Nile virus and lymphatic filariasis, and transmit pathogens threatening livestock, companion animals, and endangered birds. Rampant insecticide resistance makes controlling these mosquitoes challenging and necessitates the development of new control strategies. Gene drive technologies have made significant progress in other mosquito species, although similar advances have been lagging in Culex. Here we test the first CRISPR-based homing gene drive for Culex quinquefasciatus, demonstrating the possibility of using this technology to control Culex mosquitoes. Our results show that the inheritance of two split-gene-drive transgenes, targeting different loci, are biased in the presence of a Cas9-expressing transgene although with modest efficiencies. Our findings extend the list of disease vectors where engineered homing gene drives have been demonstrated to include Culex alongside Anopheles and Aedes, and pave the way for future development of these technologies to control Culex mosquitoes


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