Partial masculinization of Aedes aegypti females by conditional expression of Nix

B. B. Kojin, E. Jakes, J. K. Biedler, Z. Tu and Z. N. Adelman,  PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases,  16:e0010598. 2022.

Here, we report on the conditional expression of Nixin transgenic A. aegypti under the control of the tetracycline-dependent (Tet-off) system, with the goal of establishing repressible sex distortion. A masculinization phenotype was observed in three of the seven transgenic lines with females exhibiting male-like long maxillary palps and most importantly, the masculinized females were unable to blood feed. Doxycycline treatment of the transgenic lines only partially restored the normal phenotype from the masculinized transgenic lines, while RT-qPCR analysis of early embryos or adults showed no correlation between the level of masculinization and ectopic Nix expression. While the conditional expression of Nix produced intersex phenotypes, the level of expression was insufficient to program full conversion. Modifications that increase both the level of activation (no tet) and the level of repression (with tet) will be necessary, as such this study represents one step forward in the development of genetic strategies to control vector-borne diseases via sex ratio distortion.

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