Transgenic expression of Nix converts genetic females into males and allows automated sex sorting in Aedes albopictus

C. Lutrat, R. P. Olmo, T. Baldet, J. Bouyer and E. Marois,  bioRxiv,  2021.07.28.454191. 2021.

Aedes albopictus is a major vector of arboviruses. Better understanding of its sex determination is crucial for developing mosquito control tools, especially genetic sexing strains. In Aedes aegypti, Nix is the primary gene responsible for masculinization and Nix-expressing genetic females develop into fertile, albeit flightless, males. In Ae. albopictus, Nix has also been implicated in masculinization but its role remains to be further characterized. In this work, we established Ae. albopictus transgenic lines ectopically expressing Nix. Several were composed exclusively of genetic females, with transgenic individuals being phenotypic and functional males due to the expression of the Nix transgene. Their reproductive fitness was marginally impaired, while their flight performance was similar to controls. Overall, our results show that Nix is sufficient for full masculinization in Ae. albopictus. Moreover, the transgene construct contains a fluorescence marker allowing efficient automated sex sorting. Consequently, such strains constitute valuable sexing strains for genetic control.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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