Control of Mosquito-Borne Infectious Diseases: Sex and Gene Drive
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Sterile male releases have successfully reduced local populations of the dengue vector, Aedes aegypti, but challenges remain in scale and in separating sexes before release. The recent discovery of the first mosquito male determining factor (M factor) will facilitate our understanding of the genetic programs that initiate sexual development in mosquitoes. Manipulation of the M factor and possible intermediary factors may result in female-to-male conversion or female killing, enabling efficient sex separation and effective reduction of target mosquito populations. Given recent breakthroughs in the development of CRISPR-Cas9 reagents as a source of gene drive, more advanced technologies at driving maleness, the ultimate disease refractory phenotype, become possible and may represent efficient and self-limiting methods to control mosquito populations.
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