Targeting sex determination to suppress mosquito populations

Ming Li, Nikolay P Kandul,Ruichen Sun, Ting Yang, Elena D Benetta, Daniel J Brogan, Igor Antoshechkin, Héctor M Sánchez C, Yinpeng Zhan, Nicolas A DeBeaubien, YuMin M Loh, Matthew P Su, Craig Montell, John M Marshall, Omar S Akbari,  eLife,  12. 2024.

Each year, hundreds of millions of people are infected with arboviruses such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika, which are all primarily spread by the notorious mosquito Aedes aegypti. Traditional control measures have proven insufficient, necessitating innovations. In response, here we generate a next-generation CRISPR-based precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT) for Ae. aegypti that disrupts genes essential for sex determination and fertility, producing predominantly sterile males that can be deployed at any life stage. Using mathematical models and empirical testing, we demonstrate that released pgSIT males can effectively compete with, suppress, and eliminate caged mosquito populations. This versatile species-specific platform has the potential for field deployment to effectively control wild populations of disease vectors.


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