Gene drive mosquitoes can aid malaria elimination by retarding Plasmodium sporogonic development

A. Hoermann, T. Habtewold, P. Selvaraj, G. Del Corsano, P. Capriotti, M. G. Inghilterra, K. M. Temesgen, G. K. Christophides and N. Windbichler,  bioRxiv,  2022.02.15.480588. 2022.

Gene drives hold promise for the genetic control of malaria vectors. The development of vector population modification strategies hinges on the availability of effector mechanisms impeding parasite development in transgenic mosquitoes. We augmented a midgut gene of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae to secrete two exogenous antimicrobial peptides, Magainin 2 and Melittin. This small genetic modification, capable of efficient non-autonomous gene drive, hampers oocyst development in both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei. It delays the release of infectious sporozoites while it simultaneously reduces the lifespan of homozygous female transgenic mosquitoes. Modeling the spread of this modification using a large-scale agent-based model of malaria epidemiology reveals that it can break the cycle of disease transmission across a range of endemic settings.

More related to this: