Genome engineering in insects for the control of vector borne diseases

V. E. Hillary and S. A. Ceasar,  Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science,  179:197-223. 2021.

Insects cause many vector-borne infectious diseases and have become a major threat to human health. Although many control measures are undertaken, some insects are resistant to it, exacerbated by environmental changes which is a major challenge for control measures. Genetic studies by targeting the genomes of insects may offer an alternative strategy. Developments with novel genome engineering technologies have stretched our ability to target and modify any genomic sequence in Eukaryotes including insects. Genome engineering tools such as zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and most recently discovered, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) systems hold the potential to control the vector-borne diseases. In this chapter, we review the vector control strategy undertaken by employing three major genome engineering tools (ZFNs, TALENs, and CRISPR/Cas9) and discuss the future prospects of this system to control insect vectors. Finally, we also discuss the CRISPR-based gene drive system and its concerns due to ecological impacts.

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