Control of Pest Insects: Programmed Killing of Females directed by transmission of a Female – Specific Gene from transgenic males
Application: Transgenic/genetic manipulation of mosquitoes and pest insects to control their impact on agricultural crops and human populations. These genetic tools and methods provide the potential to control or eliminate pest insect populations and to control the transmission of infectious diseases to the human population.
This invention is a composition comprising a mosquito DNA sequence of approximately 700 base pairs. The DNA sequence has a know function as a female specific enhancer, and this is the first instance of a sex-specific enhancer element to be identified and characterized. The invention further includes methods of using and propagating this composition for the control of pest species such as flies, mosquitoes and pest insects that effect agricultural crops.
Researchers have mapped a sex-specific, stage- and tissue-specific novel enhancer (Hex-Enh) of transcriptional regulation to specific DNA sequences within the hexamerin gene (Hex-1.2) of the mosquito, Aedes atropalpus. This Hex-Enh can be used as a transgene to make fusion genes that control expression targeted specifically to the fat body of only female larvae and young female adults of different dipteran species (flies and mosquitoes). Since the fat body is required for the proper development of the adult female the disruption of this essential resource blocks the formation of the mature adult.
One example of many examples of the propagation of this insect control strategy involves the use of the female specific enhancer sequence in combination with a tetracycline repressible expression system such that transgenic mosquitoes grown in the presence of tetracycline will proliferate while absence of tetracycline will lead to expression of an effector molecule causing death to females only. By releasing large quantities of male only insects harboring the transgene, local populations can be controlled.
This technology is both simpler and less expensive than current insect population control methods such as irradiation and provides a means to improve on the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) strategy for mosquito control which is currently the standard method used worldwide.
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