Controlling malaria transmission with genetically-engineered, Plasmodium-resistant mosquitoes: milestones in a model system.
James AA., Beerntsen BT., Capurro MDL., Coates CJ., Coleman J., Jasinskiene N., Krettli AU.
We are developing transgenic mosquitoes resistant to malaria parasites to test the hypothesis that genetically-engineered mosquitoes can be used to block the transmission of the parasites. We are developing and testing many of the necessary methodologies with the avian malaria parasite, Plasmodium gallinaceum, and its laboratory vector, Aedes aegypti, in anticipation of engaging the technical challenges presented by the malaria parasite, P. falciparum, and its major African vector, Anopheles gambiae. Transformation technology will be used to insert into the mosquito a synthetic gene for resistance to P. gallinaceum. The resistance gene will consist of a promoter of a mosquito gene controlling the expression of an effector protein that interferes with parasite development and/or infectivity. Mosquito genes whose promoter sequences are capable of sex- and tissue-specific expression of exogenous coding sequences have been identified, and stable transformation of the mosquito has been developed. We now are developing the expressed effector portion of the synthetic gene that will interfere with the transmission of the parasites. Mouse monoclonal antibodies that recognize the circumsporozoite protein of P. gallinaceum block sporozoite invasion of mosquito salivary glands, as well as abrogate the infectivity of sporozoites to a vertebrate host, the chicken, Gallus gallus, and block sporozoite invasion and development in susceptible cell lines in vitro. Using the genes encoding these antibodies, we propose to clone and express single-chain antibody constructs (scFv) that will serve as the effector portion of the gene that interferes with transmission of P. gallinaceum sporozoites.