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Pathog Glob Health. 2012 Nov;106(7):405-12. doi: 10.1179/2047773212Y.0000000058.

Silencing of the Hsf gene, the transcriptional regulator of A. gambiae male accessory glands, inhibits the formation of the mating plug in mated females and disrupts their monogamous behaviour.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, SAF, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.


Discovering the molecular factors that shape the mating behaviour and the fertility of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, the principal vector of human malaria, is regarded as critical to better understand its reproductive success as well as for identifying new leads for malaria control measures. In A. gambiae mating induces complex behavioural and physiological changes in the females, including refractoriness to subsequent mating and induction of egg-laying. In other insects including Drosophila a group of proteins named Accessory gland proteins (Acps), produced by males and transferred with sperm to the female reproductive tract, have been implicated in this post-mating response. Although Acps represent a set of promising candidates for unravelling the mating physiology, their role in inducing behavioural changes in mated A. gambiae females remains largely unknown. In this work, we demonstrate that a down-regulation of a large fraction of Acp genes via silencing of the Acp regulating transcription factor Hsf, abolishes the formation of mating plug in mated females and fails to induce refractoriness of mated female to subsequent inseminations. A significant fraction of females mated to Hsf silenced males (66%) failed to receive the mating plug though seminal fluid had been transferred as documented by the presence of spermatozoa in the female sperm storage organ. Furthermore, nearly all females (95%) mated to HSF-silenced males were re-inseminated when exposed to males carrying EGPF marked sperm. Our findings provide evidence showing that Acp genes regulated by the transcription factor HSF play a key role in the function of the male accessory glands.

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