Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for reproduction, and this blood meal provides the underlying mechanism for the spread of many important vector-borne diseases in humans. A deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms linked to mosquito blood meal processes and reproductive events is of particular importance for devising innovative vector control strategies. We found that the conserved microRNA miR-8 is an essential regulator of mosquito reproductive events. Two strategies to inhibit miR-8 function in vivo were used for functional characterization: systemic antagomir depletion and spatiotemporal inhibition using the miRNA sponge transgenic method in combination with the yeast transcriptional activator gal4 protein/upstream activating sequence system. Depletion of miR-8 in the female mosquito results in defects related to egg development and deposition. We used a multialgorithm approach for miRNA target prediction in mosquito 3' UTRs and experimentally verified secreted wingless-interacting molecule (swim) as an authentic target of miR-8. Our findings demonstrate that miR-8 controls the activity of the long-range Wingless (Wg) signaling by regulating Swim expression in the female fat body. We discovered that the miR-8/Wg axis is critical for the proper secretion of lipophorin and vitellogenin by the fat body and subsequent accumulation of these yolk protein precursors by developing oocytes.
Keywords: Wingless signaling; microRNA; mosquito; reproduction; small RNA.