Mosquitoes can actually be our allies in fight against malaria.Washington, October 2 (ANI): A new study suggests that the mosquitoes that transmit malaria can actually help scientists find potential new ways to fight this disease.
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a molecular biology research institution supported by 19 countries comprising nearly all of western Europe and Israel. (EMBL EMBL European Molecular Biology Laboratory
EMBL Eniwetok Marine Biological Laboratory ) in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM INSERM Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (French Institute of Health and Medical Research) ) in Strasbourg, France, have found that variations in a single gene affect mosquitoes' ability to resist infection by the malaria parasite.
"Malaria parasites must spend part of their lives inside mosquitoes and another part inside humans, so by learning how mosquitoes resist malaria, we may find new tools for controlling its transmission to humans in endemic areas," says Stephanie Blandin from INSERM, who carried out the research at EMBL in collaboration with Lars Steinmetz's group and with Rui Wang-Sattler, presently at the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, Germany.
The scientists looked for clues in the genome of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, a major carrier of the parasite that causes the most severe form of human malaria in Africa.
They focused on the mosquitoes' resistance to a commonly used model organism: Plasmodium berghei, a parasite that causes malaria in rodents.
Comparing the genomes of mosquitoes that could resist this infection with those of mosquitoes that could not, the researchers found that the major difference was in a single section of one chromosome.
Of the roughly 975 genes contained in that section of DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. , one in particular appeared to play an important role in determining a mosquito's resistance to malaria.
This gene, called TEP TEP Tucson Electric Power
TEP Tomographie par Emission de Positons (French: Nuclear medicine imaging)
TEP Technical Evaluation Panel
TEP The English Patient (movie)
TEP Transportation Enhancement Program 1, encodes a protein which was known to bind to to contract; as, to bind one's self to a wife s>.
See also: Bind and promote the killing of Plasmodium berghei malaria parasites in the mosquito's midgut midgut /mid·gut/ (mid´gut) the region of the embryonic digestive tube into which the yolk sac opens and which gives rise to most of the intestines; ahead of it is the foregut and caudal to it is the hindgut. , and the scientists discovered that their strain of resistant mosquitoes had a form, or allele allele (əlēl`): see genetics.
Any one of two or more alternative forms of a gene that may occur alternatively at a given site on a chromosome. , of TEP1, that was different from those found in non-resistant (or susceptible) strains.
With an eye on determining whether that difference in alleles caused the variation in the mosquitoes' resistance to malaria, the researchers developed a novel technique, reciprocal allele-specific RNA interference RNA interference
A process in which the introduction of double-stranded RNA into a cell inhibits the expression of genes. , inspired by one Steinmetz's group had previously created to study yeast.
"This was a breakthrough, because the new technique is applicable to many different organisms. It extends the power we gained in yeast: we can go from a whole region of DNA to the actual causative gene - a feat rarely achievable in complex organisms," says Steinmetz.
The technique helped the scientists identify exactly which allele was behind a specific trait.
They produced individual mosquitoes that had one TEP1 allele from the resistant strain and another from a susceptible strain, and then "turned off" - or silenced - one or other of these alleles.
According to the researchers, silencing different alleles produced mosquitoes with different degrees of resistance to malaria, which means that an individual mosquito's resistance to the malaria parasite depends largely on which form(s) of the gene it carries.
The study might have focused on the parasite that causes malaria in rodents, the researchers insist that there is evidence that this gene may also be involved in the mosquitoes' immune response to human malaria.
They are currently exploring this connection, hoping that their efforts might one day help make malaria eradication programs more effective.
The study has been published in the journal Science. (ANI)
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