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Discovery by UC Riverside entomologists could shrink dengue-spreading mosquito population
Date:12/2/2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Each year, dengue fever infects as many as 100 million people while yellow fever is responsible for about 30,000 deaths worldwide. Both diseases are spread by infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which require vertebrate blood to produce eggs. The blood feeding and the egg development are tightly linked to how the mosquito transmits the disease-causing virus.

Now a team of entomologists at the University of California, Riverside has identified a microRNA (a short ribonucleic acid molecule) in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that when deactivated disrupts the mosquito's blood digestion and egg development a discovery that could help control the spread of not only dengue and yellow fever but potentially all vector-borne diseases.

MicroRNAs do not code for protein products but play powerful regulatory roles in development and cell growth; their mis-regulation leads to defects, including cancer. The researchers asked if microRNAs were involved in essential functions in female mosquitoes such as blood feeding and egg maturation. These functions are required not only for successful reproduction, but also serve as a foundation for the mosquito's ability to transmit pathogens of devastating human diseases.

In their experiments in the lab, the researchers were screening a number of microRNAs in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to study their behavior during blood feeding and reproduction, when they found one microRNA, "miR-275," was highly elevated during egg development.

Next, the researchers developed a method for specific deactivation of miR-275 in Aedes aegypti females and fed these mosquitoes with blood to analyze what effects occur when female mosquitoes no longer have this microRNA at their disposal.

They found that the blood these mosquitoes had fed on remained undigested in their guts. Further, the overall volume of the engorged blood was unusua
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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