Population modification strategies for malaria vector control are uniquely resilient to observed levels of gene drive resistance alleles.
Lanzaro GC., Sánchez C HM., Collier TC., Marshall JM., James AA.
Cas9/guide RNA (gRNA)-based gene drive systems are expected to play a transformative role in malaria elimination efforts., whether through population modification, in which the drive system contains parasite-refractory genes, or population suppression, in which the drive system induces a severe fitness load resulting in population decline or extinction. DNA sequence polymorphisms representing alternate alleles at gRNA target sites may confer a drive-resistant phenotype in individuals carrying them. Modeling predicts that, for observed levels of SGV at potential target sites and observed rates of de novo DRA formation, population modification strategies are uniquely resilient to DRAs. We conclude that gene drives can succeed when fitness costs incurred by drive-carrying mosquitoes are low enough to prevent strong positive selection for DRAs produced de novo or as part of the SGV and that population modification strategies are less prone to failure due to drive resistance.