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Mosquito DNA Identified That Confers Malaria Resistance

Mosquitoes able to transmit malaria may have immune system defect

FRIDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers may have discovered why some mosquito species are naturally resistant to the infectious malaria parasite Plasmodium that can be transmitted to humans by other mosquito species, according to a report in the April 28 issue of Science. The finding may assist in developing malaria control strategies, the report suggests.

Kenneth D. Vernick, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, along with an international team of colleagues surveyed a population of Anopheles gambiae from a malaria transmission zone in West Africa. They looked for genetic elements that correlated with malaria resistance.

The investigators found malaria resistance "islands" in the mosquito chromosomes, one of which was strong enough to explain over 89 percent of resistance when tested in different pedigrees. One candidate gene in this region, called Anopheles Plasmodium-responsive leucine-rich repeat 1 (APL1), resembles pathogen-resistance genes in plants and animals, and was required for full resistance in laboratory tests.

The investigators suspect that the resistant mosquitoes are actually "wildtype" and that those that are infected and transmit malaria may actually have an immune system defect. Understanding malaria transmission is essential to developing effective control strategies, they add.

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