Researchers Discover How Mosquitoes Use Blood to Reproduce

Apr 21, 2006
Researchers Discover How Mosquitoes Use Blood to Reproduce

A University of California, Riverside research team has uncovered how a female mosquito’s first blood meal triggers its reproductive system to produce eggs, a finding which could lead someday to new ways of controlling disease-spreading mosquito populations.

The team, led by Professor of Entomology Alexander S. Raikhel, authored a paper titled GATA Factor Translation is the Final Downstream Step in Amino Acid/TOR-Mediated Vitellogenin Gene Expression in the Anautogenous Mosquito Aedes Aegypti. The paper, co-authored with UCR researchers, Immo Hansen, Jong-Hwa Park and Geoffrey M. Attardo, currently a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. The paper is published in today’s edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The paper shows how a newly discovered signaling pathway, using amino acids formed after the female mosquito feeds on blood, triggers a chain reaction that produces eggs. Researchers had previously thought that a neurological pathway was the only means by which the mosquito Aedis aegypti signaled its ovaries to produce eggs. The paper identifies the final step in this chain reaction, a genetic factor known as the GATA factor that activates the gene vitellogenin, which produces yolk protein. This, in turn, signals the ovaries to produce eggs.

Key to this newly discovered process is the term translation, which refers to the transformation of RNA into proteins, which in turn trigger genes to do certain things.

“What we’re looking at is a process that releases the brakes on a hold in the egg development of the mosquito,” Raikhel said.

The impact of the current paper, according to Raikhel, is it’s identification of the biological roles of the pathway in the mosquito’s development to “release the brakes,” on the egg-production mechanism.

In mosquitoes, the genes that signal production of yolk proteins remain inactive until the insect takes its first blood meal. In the summer of 2004, Raikhel authored a paper that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled Target of Rapamycin-Mediated Amino Acid Signaling in Mosquito Autogeny, which identified the chain reaction.

The subsequent and frequent blood meals required to keep the process going are what makes the mosquito such a formidable vector of such deadly diseases as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and the west Nile virus.

“If we could find a way to block this pathway, we could close the gate on the mosquito’s reproduction or find ways to make the mosquito a less effective disease vector,” Raikhel said.

“The next step in our research should be identifying which amino acids are produced and used by the mosquito and how they work on its system,” he added.

Source: University of California, Riverside

Explore further: Study calls for audit transparency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why is Andromeda coming toward us?

28 minutes ago

I don't want to alarm you, but there's a massive galaxy heading our way and will collide with us in a few billion years. But aren't most galaxies speeding away? Why is Andromeda on a collision course with ...

Bad reputation of crows demystified

18 minutes ago

In literature, crows and ravens arebad omens and are associated with witches. Most people believe they steal, eat other birds' eggs and reduce the populations of other birds. But a new study, which has brought ...

Young people overly optimistic about finances

8 minutes ago

A new survey of young New Zealanders by the Westpac-Massey Fin-Ed Centre shows that many believe their financial situation will improve in the coming year and their money management skills require no improvement.

Recommended for you

Study calls for audit transparency

12 hours ago

As major accounting companies increasingly outsource audit work to other firms, a new study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School says greater transparency is needed to help investors assess the quality of ...

Girls lead boys in academic achievement globally

12 hours ago

Considerable attention has been paid to how boys' educational achievements in science and math compare to girls' accomplishments in those areas, often leading to the assumption that boys outperform girls ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.