Targeting Sex Determination to Suppress Mosquito Populations

L. Ming, P. K. Nikolay, S. Ruichen, Y. Ting, D. B. Elena, J. B. Daniel, A. Igor, M. S. C. Hector, Z. Yinpeng, A. D. Nicolas, M. L. YuMin, P. S. Matthew, M. Craig, M. M. John and S. A. Omar,  bioRxiv,  2023.04.18.537404. 2023.

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 Aedes 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 control wild populations, safely curtailing disease transmission.Competing Interest StatementO.S.A. is a founder of Agragene, Inc. with equity interest. O.S.A., M.L., and N.P.K are founders of Synvect with equity interest. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of California, San Diego in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. All remaining authors declare no competing interests.

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