Diverse cellular morphologies during lumen maturation in Anopheles gambiae larval salivary glands

M. Chiu, B. Trigg, M. Taracena, M. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mosquitoes are the greatest animal threat to human health, causing hundreds of millions of infections and around 1 million deaths each year. All mosquito-borne pathogens must traverse the salivary glands (SGs) to be transmitted to the next host, making this organ an ideal target for interventions. The adult SG develops from precursor cells located in the larval SG duct bud. Characterization of the larval SG has been limited. We sought to better understand larval SG architecture, secretion and gene expression. We developed an optimized method for larval SG staining and surveyed hundreds of larval stage 4 (L4) SGs using fluorescence confocal microscopy. Remarkable variation in SG cell and chromatin organization differed among individuals and across the L4 stage. Lumen formation occurred during L4 stage through secretion likely involving a coincident cellular apical lipid enrichment and extracellular vesicle-like structures. Meta-analysis of microarray data showed that larval SG gene expression is divergent from adult SGs, more similar to larval gastric cecae, but different from other larval gut compartments. This work highlights the variable cell architecture of larval Anopheles gambiae SGs and provides candidate targets for genetic strategies aiming to disrupt SGs and transmission of mosquito-borne pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-230
Number of pages21
JournalInsect molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Anopheles
  • brush border-like
  • larvae
  • salivary gland
  • vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Diverse cellular morphologies during lumen maturation in Anopheles gambiae larval salivary glands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this