30 May 2015

A Gene Turns Female to Male Mosquito Decreases Disease

Did you know that only female mosquitoes feed on human blood thus transmitting diseases? In fact, the female of these species is more deadly than its male.

That's certainly true, well, according to ScienceMag report, for Aedes aegypti, a.k.a Yellow Fever Mosquito.

If only female mosquito transmits particular disease, then what if scientists can turn all women into male mosquitoes? Probably, quite an excellent news indeed.

For Yellow fever alone, there were an estimated of 200,000 cases, causing 30,000 deaths worldwide each year, and was 90% occurring in Africa. The virus also was endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America.

Malaria has an estimated of 198 million cases in 2013 and estimated at 584,000 deaths in 2013.

Back to the idea of converting female mosquito to a male mosquito, the possibility was raised by a new study that pinpoints individual gene whether a mosquito becomes male.

Interestingly, scientists had at least one gene that makes A. aegypti embryos male resides of DNA on chromosome 1, called that region, M Locus.  Sadly, until now, they were unable to pinpoint the particular gene.

Zach Adelman, a molecular geneticist at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg and one of the authors of the new paper, said that it was tiny scale and it was thrown out the trash.
 "It's very small and it was thrown out with the trash"
Out of 164 DNA sequences, they found one new gene named Nix. In the process, some female embryos were injected with this Nix gene. Although it leads to becoming as males, according to Adelman, it is not clear.
"The exact sequence of events that leads to mosquitoes developing as males is not clear. But we know that Nix is at the top of that cascade and that is what counts."
Optimistically, Adelman said that if the Nix gene fully integrated of the genome of the mosquitoes for the protein to be produced in sufficient, all the time in all the tissues, then it will get a fully converted female to a male mosquito.
"If you release such an animal, it only produces males until eventually the population crashes. But it is far too early to apply such a technique. We need the technology to control these systems before that can be used."

Primary Source: ScienceMag
Photo from Wikipedia
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