High-resolution in situ analysis of Cas9 germline transcript distributions in gene-drive Anopheles mosquitoes

G. Terradas, A. Hermann, A. A. James, W. McGinnis and E. Bier,  G3-Genes Genomes Genetics,  2021.

Gene drives are programmable genetic elements that can spread beneficial traits into wild populations to aid in vector-borne pathogen control. Two different drives have been developed for population modification of mosquito vectors. The Reckh drive (vasa-Cas9) in Anopheles stephensi displays efficient allelic conversion through males but generates frequent drive-resistant mutant alleles when passed through females. In contrast, the AgNosCd-1 drive (nos-Cas9) in Anopheles gambiae achieves almost complete allelic conversion through both genders. Here, we examined the subcellular localization of RNA transcripts in the mosquito germline. In both transgenic lines, Cas9 is strictly coexpressed with endogenous genes in stem and premeiotic cells of the testes, where both drives display highly efficient conversion. However, we observed distinct colocalization patterns for the two drives in female reproductive tissues. These studies suggest potential determinants underlying efficient drive through the female germline. We also evaluated expression patterns of alternative germline genes for future gene-drive designs.

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