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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 9;105(49):19390-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809723105. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Molecular and cellular components of the mating machinery in Anopheles gambiae females.

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Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Imperial College London, Imperial College Road, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.


Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are the principal vectors of malaria. A major determinant of the capacity of these mosquitoes as disease vectors is their high reproductive rate. Reproduction depends on a single insemination, which profoundly changes the behavior and physiology of females. To identify factors and mechanisms relevant to the fertility of A. gambiae, we performed a comprehensive analysis of the molecular and cellular machinery associated with copulation in females. Initial whole-body microarray experiments comparing virgins with females at 2 h, 6 h, and 24 h after mating detected large transcriptional changes. Analysis of tissue localization identified a subset of genes whose expression was strikingly regulated by mating in the lower reproductive tract and, surprisingly, the gut. In the atrium of virgin females, where the male seminal fluid is received, our studies revealed a "mating machinery" consisting of molecular and structural components that are turned off or collapse after copulation, suggesting that this tissue loses its competence for further insemination. In the sperm storage organ, we detected a number of mating-responsive genes likely to have a role in the maintenance and function of stored sperm. These results identify genes and mechanisms regulating the reproductive biology of A. gambiae females, highlighting considerable differences with Drosophila melanogaster. Our data inform vector control strategies and reveal promising targets for the manipulation of fertility in field populations of these important disease vectors.

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