Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers master gene editing technique in mosquito that transmits deadly diseases

27.03.2015

Traditionally, to understand how a gene functions, a scientist would breed an organism that lacks that gene - "knocking it out" - then ask how the organism has changed. Are its senses affected? Its behavior? Can it even survive?

Thanks to the recent advance of gene editing technology, this gold standard genetic experiment has become much more accessible in a wide variety of organisms. Now, researchers at Rockefeller University have harnessed a technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 editing in an important and understudied species: the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which infects hundreds of millions of people annually with the deadly diseases chikungunya, yellow fever, and dengue fever.


Mosquito larvae from two different lines fluoresce in different colors thanks to genetic tags that were inserted using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system.

Credit: Vosshall Laboratory

Researchers led by postdoctoral fellow Benjamin J. Matthews adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 system to Ae. aegypti and were able to efficiently generate targeted mutations and insertions in a number of genes. The immediate goal of this project, says Matthews, is to learn more about how different genes help the species operate so efficiently as a disease vector, and create new ways to control it.

"To understand how the female mosquito actually transmits disease," says Matthews, "you have to learn how she finds humans to bite, and how she chooses a source of water to lay her eggs. Once you have that information, techniques for intervention will come."

In the study, published March 26 in Cell Reports, Matthews and research assistant Kathryn E. Kistler, both in Leslie B. Vosshall's Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 system to introduce precise mutations in Ae. aegypti. Previously, to create these types of mutations, scientists relied on techniques that used engineered proteins to bind to specific segments of DNA they wanted to remove, a process that was both expensive and unreliable.

CRISPR-Cas9, in contrast, consists of short stretches of RNA that bind to specific regions of the genome where a protein, Cas9, cleaves the DNA. Scientists have been studying how RNA binds to DNA for decades and "the targeting is done with rules that we have a good handle on," says Matthews, which makes it easy to reprogram CRISPR-Cas9 to target any gene.

"This amazing technique has worked in nearly every organism that's been tried," says Vosshall, who is Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "There are lots of interesting animal species out there that could not be studied using genetics prior to CRISPR-Cas9, and as a result this technique is already revolutionizing biology."

This work opens the door to learning more about the role of specific genes the Vosshall lab suspects may help mosquitoes propagate, perhaps by finding the perfect spot to lay their eggs. Their protocols will likely also help other scientists apply the same technique to study additional organisms, such as agricultural pests or mosquitoes that carry malaria.

"Before starting this project, we thought it would be difficult to modify many genes in the mosquito genome in a lab setting" Matthews says. "With a little tweaking, we were able to make this technique routine and it's only going to get easier, faster, and cheaper from here on out."

Zach Veilleux | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: DNA RNA Rockefeller Vosshall aegypti bind deadly diseases genes master gene mosquito mutations organism species technique techniques

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>