Regulation of Gene Expression Patterns in Mosquito Reproduction

PLoS Genet. 2015 Aug 14;11(8):e1005450. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005450. eCollection 2015 Aug.


In multicellular organisms, development, growth and reproduction require coordinated expression of numerous functional and regulatory genes. Insects, in addition to being the most speciose animal group with enormous biological and economical significance, represent outstanding model organisms for studying regulation of synchronized gene expression due to their rapid development and reproduction. Disease-transmitting female mosquitoes have adapted uniquely for ingestion and utilization of the huge blood meal required for swift reproductive events to complete egg development within a 72-h period. We investigated the network of regulatory factors mediating sequential gene expression in the fat body, a multifunctional organ analogous to the vertebrate liver and adipose tissue, of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Transcriptomic and bioinformatics analyses revealed that ~7500 transcripts are differentially expressed in four sequential waves during the 72-h reproductive period. A combination of RNA-interference gene-silencing and in-vitro organ culture identified the major regulators for each of these waves. Amino acids (AAs) regulate the first wave of gene activation between 3 h and 12 h post-blood meal (PBM). During the second wave, between 12 h and 36 h, most genes are highly upregulated by a synergistic action of AAs, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) and the Ecdysone-Receptor (EcR). Between 36 h and 48 h, the third wave of gene activation-regulated mainly by HR3-occurs. Juvenile Hormone (JH) and its receptor Methoprene-Tolerant (Met) are major regulators for the final wave between 48 h and 72 h. Each of these key regulators also has repressive effects on one or more gene sets. Our study provides a better understanding of the complexity of the regulatory mechanisms related to temporal coordination of gene expression during reproduction. We have detected the novel function of 20E/EcR responsible for transcriptional repression. This study also reveals the previously unidentified large-scale effects of HR3 and JH/Met on transcriptional regulation during the termination of vitellogenesis and remodeling of the fat body.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / genetics*
  • Aedes / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / physiology
  • Animals
  • Ecdysterone / physiology
  • Fat Body / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Insect
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Juvenile Hormones / physiology
  • Postprandial Period
  • Receptors, Steroid / physiology
  • Reproduction
  • Transcriptome


  • Amino Acids
  • Insect Proteins
  • Juvenile Hormones
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • ecdysone receptor
  • Ecdysterone