New article (January 2017)

Transgenic Expression of the Anti-parasitic Factor TEP1 in the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae.
Volohonsky G, Hopp AK, Saenger M, Soichot J, Scholze H, Boch J, Blandin SA
, Marois E 


Mosquitoes genetically engineered to be resistant to Plasmodium parasites represent a promising novel approach in the fight against malaria. The insect immune system itself is a source of anti-parasitic genes potentially exploitable for transgenic designs. The Anopheles gambiae thioester containing protein 1 (TEP1) is a potent anti-parasitic protein. TEP1 is secreted and circulates in the mosquito hemolymph, where its activated cleaved form binds and eliminates malaria parasites. Here we investigated whether TEP1 can be used to create malaria resistant mosquitoes. Using a GFP reporter transgene, we determined that the fat body is the main site of TEP1 expression. We generated transgenic mosquitoes that express TEP1r, a potent refractory allele of TEP1, in the fat body and examined the activity of the transgenic protein in wild-type or TEP1 mutant genetic backgrounds. Transgenic TEP1r rescued loss-of-function mutations, but did not increase parasite resistance in the presence of a wild-type susceptible allele. Consistent with previous reports, TEP1 protein expressed from the transgene in the fat body was taken up by hemocytes upon a challenge with injected bacteria. Furthermore, although maturation of transgenic TEP1 into the cleaved form was impaired in one of the TEP1 mutant lines, it was still sufficient to reduce parasite numbers and induce parasite melanization. We also report here the first use of Transcription Activator Like Effectors (TALEs) in Anopheles gambiae to stimulate expression of endogenous TEP1. We found that artificial elevation of TEP1 expression remains moderate in vivo and that enhancement of endogenous TEP1expression did not result in increased resistance to Plasmodium. Taken together, our results reveal the difficulty of artificially influencing TEP1-mediated Plasmodium resistance, and contribute to further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying mosquito resistance to Plasmodium parasites.