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Cell Host Microbe. 2009 May 8;5(5):498-507. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2009.04.003.

The STAT pathway mediates late-phase immunity against Plasmodium in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae.

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  • 1Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20892-8130, USA.


The STAT family of transcription factors activates expression of immune system genes in vertebrates. The ancestral STAT gene (AgSTAT-A) appears to have duplicated in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, giving rise to a second intronless STAT gene (AgSTAT-B), which we show regulates AgSTAT-A expression in adult females. AgSTAT-A participates in the transcriptional activation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in response to bacterial and plasmodial infection. Activation of this pathway, however, is not essential for mosquitoes to survive a bacterial challenge. AgSTAT-A silencing reduces the number of early Plasmodium oocysts in the midgut, but nevertheless enhances the overall infection by increasing oocyst survival. Silencing of SOCS, a STAT suppressor, has the opposite effect, reducing Plasmodium infection by increasing NOS expression. Chemical inhibition of mosquito NOS activity after oocyte formation increases oocyte survival. Thus, the AgSTAT-A pathway mediates a late-phase antiplasmodial response that reduces oocyst survival in A. gambiae.

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