Transcriptome analysis of aedes aegypti transgenic mosquitoes with altered immunity

Zhen Zou, Jayme Souza-Neto, Zhiyong Xi, Vladimir Kokoza, Sang Woon Shin, George Dimopoulos, Alexander Raikhel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The mosquito immune system is involved in pathogen-elicited defense responses. The NF-κB factors REL1 and REL2 are downstream transcription activators of Toll and IMD immune pathways, respectively. We have used genome-wide microarray analyses to characterize fat-body-specific gene transcript repertoires activated by either REL1 or REL2 in two transgenic strains of the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Vitellogenin gene promoter was used in each transgenic strain to ectopically express either REL1 (REL1+) or REL2 (REL2+) in a sex, tissue, and stage specific manner. There was a significant change in the transcript abundance of 297 (79 up- and 218 down-regulated) and 299 (123 up- and 176 down-regulated) genes in fat bodies of REL1+ and REL2+, respectively. Over half of the induced genes had predicted functions in immunity, and a large group of these was co-regulated by REL1 and REL2. By generating a hybrid transgenic strain, which ectopically expresses both REL1 and REL2, we have shown a synergistic action of these NF-κB factors in activating immune genes. The REL1+ immune transcriptome showed a significant overlap with that of cactus (RNAi)-depleted mosquitoes (50%). In contrast, the REL2+ -regulated transcriptome differed from the relatively small group of gene transcripts regulated by RNAi depletion of a putative inhibitor of the IMD pathway, caspar (35 up- and 140 down-regulated), suggesting that caspar contributes to regulation of a subset of IMD-pathway controlled genes. Infections of the wild type Ae. aegypti with Plasmodium gallinaceum elicited the transcription of a distinct subset of immune genes (76 up- and 25 down-regulated) relative to that observed in REL1+ and REL2+ mosquitoes. Considerable overlap was observed between the fat body transcriptome of Plasmodium-infected mosquitoes and that of mosquitoes with transiently depleted PIAS, an inhibitor of the JAK-STAT pathway. PIAS gene silencing reduced Plasmodium proliferation in Ae. aegypti, indicating the involvement of the JAK-STAT pathway in anti-Plasmodium defense in this infection model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002394
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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