A New Role of the Mosquito Complement-like Cascade in Male Fertility in Anopheles gambiae

PLoS Biol. 2015 Sep 22;13(9):e1002255. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002255. eCollection 2015.


Thioester-containing protein 1 (TEP1) is a key immune factor that determines mosquito resistance to a wide range of pathogens, including malaria parasites. Here we report a new allele-specific function of TEP1 in male fertility. We demonstrate that during spermatogenesis TEP1 binds to and removes damaged cells through the same complement-like cascade that kills malaria parasites in the mosquito midgut. Further, higher fertility rates are mediated by an allele that renders the mosquito susceptible to Plasmodium. By elucidating the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying TEP1 function in spermatogenesis, our study suggests that pleiotropic antagonism between reproduction and immunity may shape resistance of mosquito populations to malaria parasites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Anopheles / immunology
  • Anopheles / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gamma Rays
  • Genetic Pleiotropy
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insect Vectors / immunology
  • Insect Vectors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Plasmodium / immunology
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Testis / metabolism


  • Insect Proteins
  • TEP1 protein, Anopheles gambiae

Grant support

This work was supported by funds from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013 http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/ongoing-fp7_en.html) under grant agreements N°242095 (EVIMalar) and N°223601 (MALVECBLOK), by the ANR (http://www.agence-nationale-recherche.fr) grant GIME (ANR-11-BSV7-009-01). JP was supported by fellowships from FRM and the Fondation les Treilles. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.