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J Exp Biol. 2004 Jul;207(Pt 15):2551-63.

Innate immunity in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae: comparative and functional genomics.

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  • 1European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


The resurgence of malaria is at least partly attributed to the absence of an effective vaccine, parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs and resistance to insecticides of the anopheline mosquito vectors. Novel strategies are needed to combat the disease on three fronts: protection (vaccines), prophylaxis/treatment (antimalarial drugs) and transmission blocking. The latter entails either killing the mosquitoes (insecticides), preventing mosquito biting (bednets and repellents), blocking parasite development in the vector (transmission blocking vaccines), genetic manipulation or chemical incapacitation of the vector. During the past decade, mosquito research has been energized by several breakthroughs, including the successful transformation of anopheline vectors, analysis of gene function by RNAi, genome-wide expression profiling using DNA microarrays and, most importantly, sequencing of the Anopheles gambiae genome. These breakthroughs helped unravel some of the mechanisms underlying the dynamic interactions between the parasite and the vector and shed light on the mosquito innate immune system as a set of potential targets to block parasite development. In this context, putative pattern recognition receptors of the mosquito that act as positive and negative regulators of parasite development have been identified recently. Characterizing these molecules and others of similar function, and identifying their ligands on the parasite surface, will provide clues on the nature of the interactions that define an efficient parasite-vector system and open up unprecedented opportunities to control the vectorial capacity of anopheline mosquitoes.

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