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Immune Activation Renders Malaria Mosquitoes Resistant

Gene silencing leads to resistance to infection by malaria parasites

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Gene silencing activates immune pathways in mosquitoes that carry malaria parasites and renders the mosquitoes resistant to infection, according to a report in the March issue of PLoS Pathogens.

Lindsey S. Garver, and colleagues from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, silenced expression of the caspar gene, which encodes a negative regulator of the Imd immune signaling pathway in Anopheles mosquitoes, thereby activating the immune pathway. They then examined the ability of the mosquitoes to be infected by several species of malaria parasite.

The researchers found that silencing caspar resulted in complete resistance of Anopheles gambiae, A. stephensi and A. albimanus mosquitoes to infection by Plasmodium falciparum, a human malaria parasite. Some genes regulated by caspar silencing are known to be involved in parasite resistance, the authors note, and silencing the gene had little to no effect on mosquito fitness. However, silencing of a negative regulator of the Toll immune signaling pathway, cactus, was most effective against Plasmodium berghei, a rodent malaria parasite.

"These findings have implications for malaria control since broad-spectrum immune activation in diverse anopheline species offers a viable and strategic approach to develop novel malaria control methods worldwide," Garver and colleagues conclude.

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