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A maleness gene in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 67-69
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5605

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Female-fatal product of the Yob gene

Mechanisms of sex determination are highly variable and complex in invertebrates. For vector-borne disease control strategies, it is important to understand the reproductive biology of the organisms involved. Krzywinska et al. have studied sex determination in species of Anopheles mosquitoes, whose females suck blood and can transmit malaria parasites (see the Perspective by Sinkins). One gene called Yob is found only on the Y chromosome of males. Yob is expressed in male embryos within 2 hours of eggs being laid, and transcription continues lifelong. If Yob is injected into embryos younger than 2 hours, only male mosquitoes emerge, because Yob's presence is lethal to female embryos.

Science, this issue p. 67; see also p. 33

Abstract

The molecular pathways controlling gender are highly variable and have been identified in only a few nonmammalian model species. In many insects, maleness is conferred by a Y chromosome–linked M factor of unknown nature. We have isolated and characterized a gene, Yob, for the M factor in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Yob, activated at the beginning of zygotic transcription and expressed throughout a male’s life, controls male-specific splicing of the doublesex gene. Silencing embryonic Yob expression is male-lethal, whereas ectopic embryonic delivery of Yob transcripts yields male-only broods. This female-killing property may be an invaluable tool for creation of conditional male-only transgenic Anopheles strains for malaria control programs.

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