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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Oct 16;115(42):E9822-E9831. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808243115. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Serotonin signaling regulates insulin-like peptides for growth, reproduction, and metabolism in the disease vector Aedes aegypti.

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Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.
Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.
Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521;


Disease-transmitting female mosquitoes require a vertebrate blood meal to produce their eggs. An obligatory hematophagous lifestyle, rapid reproduction, and existence of a large number of transmittable diseases make mosquitoes the world's deadliest animals. Attaining optimal body size and nutritional status is critical for mosquitoes to become reproductively competent and effective disease vectors. We report that blood feeding boosts serotonin concentration and elevates the serotonin receptor Aa5HT2B (Aedes aegypti 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor, type 2B) transcript level in the fat-body, an insect analog of the vertebrate liver and adipose tissue. Aa5HT2B gene disruption using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing approach led to a decreased body size, postponed development, shortened lifespan, retarded ovarian growth, and dramatically diminished lipid accumulation. Expression of the insulin-like peptide (ILP) genes ilp2 and ilp6 was down-regulated while that of ilp5 and ilp4 was up-regulated in response to Aa5HT2B disruption. CRISPR-Cas9 disruption of ilp2 or ilp6 resulted in adverse phenotypes similar to those of Aa5HT2B disruption, while ilp5 CRISPR-Cas9 disruption had exactly the opposite effect on growth and metabolism, with significantly increased body size and elevated lipid stores. Simultaneous CRISPR-Cas9 disruption of Aa5HT2B and ilp5 rescued these phenotypic manifestations. Aa5HT2B RNAi silencing rendered ilp6 insensitive to serotonin treatment in the cultured fat-body, suggesting a regulatory link between Aa5HT2B and ILP6. Moreover, CRISPR-Cas9 ilp6 disruption affects expression of ilp-2, -5, and -4, pointing out on a possible role of ILP6 as a mediator of the Aa5HT2B action.


CRISPR-Cas9; body size; insulin; metabolism; serotonin receptor

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