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BMC Genomics. 2017 Feb 13;18(1):153. doi: 10.1186/s12864-017-3579-8.

Anopheline salivary protein genes and gene families: an evolutionary overview after the whole genome sequence of sixteen Anopheles species.

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Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases - Division of Parasitology, Sapienza University, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy.
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases - Division of Parasitology, Sapienza University, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy.
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Avenida Brasil, 4365, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Instituto de Medicina Social, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 12735 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, MD, 20852, USA.



Mosquito saliva is a complex cocktail whose pharmacological properties play an essential role in blood feeding by counteracting host physiological response to tissue injury. Moreover, vector borne pathogens are transmitted to vertebrates and exposed to their immune system in the context of mosquito saliva which, in virtue of its immunomodulatory properties, can modify the local environment at the feeding site and eventually affect pathogen transmission. In addition, the host antibody response to salivary proteins may be used to assess human exposure to mosquito vectors. Even though the role of quite a few mosquito salivary proteins has been clarified in the last decade, we still completely ignore the physiological role of many of them as well as the extent of their involvement in the complex interactions taking place between the mosquito vectors, the pathogens they transmit and the vertebrate host. The recent release of the genomes of 16 Anopheles species offered the opportunity to get insights into function and evolution of salivary protein families in anopheline mosquitoes.


Orthologues of fifty three Anopheles gambiae salivary proteins were retrieved and annotated from 18 additional anopheline species belonging to the three subgenera Cellia, Anopheles, and Nyssorhynchus. Our analysis included 824 full-length salivary proteins from 24 different families and allowed the identification of 79 novel salivary genes and re-annotation of 379 wrong predictions. The comparative, structural and phylogenetic analyses yielded an unprecedented view of the anopheline salivary repertoires and of their evolution over 100 million years of anopheline radiation shedding light on mechanisms and evolutionary forces that contributed shaping the anopheline sialomes.


We provide here a comprehensive description, classification and evolutionary overview of the main anopheline salivary protein families and identify two novel candidate markers of human exposure to malaria vectors worldwide. This anopheline sialome catalogue, which is easily accessible as hyperlinked spreadsheet, is expected to be useful to the vector biology community and to improve the capacity to gain a deeper understanding of mosquito salivary proteins facilitating their possible exploitation for epidemiological and/or pathogen-vector-host interaction studies.


Anophelines; Evolution; Human exposure to malaria vectors; Mosquito saliva; Positive selection; Salivary glands; Salivary markers; Salivary proteins; Vector biology

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