Engineering mosquito resistance to malaria parasites: the avian malaria model.
Genetic approaches to controlling the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases are being developed to augment the available chemical control practices and environmental manipulation methods. Much progress has been made in laboratory-based research that seeks to develop antipathogen or antivector effector genes and methods for genetically manipulating host vector strains. Research is summarized here in the development of a malaria-resistant phenotype using as a model system the avian parasite, Plasmodium gallinaceum, and the mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Robust transformation technology based on a number of transposable elements, the identification of promoter regions derived from endogenous mosquito genes, and the development of single-chain antibodies as effector genes have made it possible to produce malaria-resistant mosquitoes. Future challenges include discovery of methods for spreading antiparasite genes through mosquito populations, determining the threshold levels below which parasite intensities of infection must be held, and defining the circumstances in which a genetic control strategy would be employed in the field.