Pantropic retroviral vectors integrate and express in cells of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae.
Matsubara T., Beeman RW., Shike H., Besansky NJ., Mukabayire O., Higgs S., James AA., Burns JC.
The lack of efficient mechanisms for stable genetic transformation of medically important insects, such as anopheline mosquitoes, is the single most important impediment to progress in identifying novel control strategies. Currently available techniques for foreign gene expression in insect cells in culture lack the benefit of stable inheritance conferred by integration. To overcome this problem, a new class of pantropic retroviral vectors has been developed in which the amphotropic envelope is completely replaced by the G glycoprotein of vesicular stomatitis virus. The broadened host cell range of these particles allowed successful entry, integration, and expression of heterologous genes in cultured cells of Anopheles gambiae, the principle mosquito vector responsible for the transmission of over 100 million cases of malaria each year. Mosquito cells in culture infected with a pantropic vector expressing hygromycin phosphotransferase from the Drosophila hsp70 promoter were resistant to the antibiotic hygromycin B. Integrated provirus was detected in infected mosquito cell clones grown in selective media. Thus, pantropic retroviral vectors hold promise as a transformation system for mosquitoes in vivo.