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 Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>