"Our finding is exciting because it gets to the very core of what a vector of diseases is all about," said Alexander Raikhel, a distinguished professor of entomology, whose lab led the study. "We can now knock down a series of events starting with the digestion of blood and proceeding all the way to egg maturation simply by eliminating this small molecule, miR-275. In tropical areas of the world, where dengue and yellow fever are often leading causes of hospitalization and death among adults and children, a reduction in the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes would be tremendously beneficial."
Study results appear this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Next in this line of work, Raikhel's lab plans to focus on determining which genes miR-275 targets, what roles these genes play in blood digestion and egg development, and what mechanism underlies the activation and deactivation of miR-275.
Bart Bryant, the first author of the research paper and a postdoctoral researcher in Raikhel's lab, explained that the research team knocked down or "depleted" the miR-275 with an "antagomir" a small synthetic RNA molecule that in this research study binds with miR-275, preventing it from doing its job of allowing blood digestion and egg development to proceed.
"We think our work has opened the door for exploring how microRNAs regulate critical physiological functions specific to vectors that transmit deadly disease pathogens," Bryant said.
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside