Background: A complete genome sequence and the advent of genome editing open up non-traditional model organisms to mechanistic genetic studies. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is an important vector of infectious diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever and has a large and complex genome, which has slowed annotation efforts. We used comprehensive transcriptomic analysis of adult gene expression to improve the genome annotation and to provide a detailed tissue-specific catalogue of neural gene expression at different adult behavioral states.
Results: We carried out deep RNA sequencing across all major peripheral male and female sensory tissues, the brain and (female) ovary. Furthermore, we examined gene expression across three important phases of the female reproductive cycle, a remarkable example of behavioral switching in which a female mosquito alternates between obtaining blood-meals from humans and laying eggs. Using genome-guided alignments and de novo transcriptome assembly, our re-annotation includes 572 new putative protein-coding genes and updates to 13.5 and 50.3 % of existing transcripts within coding sequences and untranslated regions, respectively. Using this updated annotation, we detail gene expression in each tissue, identifying large numbers of transcripts regulated by blood-feeding and sexually dimorphic transcripts that may provide clues to the biology of male- and female-specific behaviors, such as mating and blood-feeding, which are areas of intensive study for those interested in vector control.
Conclusions: This neurotranscriptome forms a strong foundation for the study of genes in the mosquito nervous system and investigation of sensory-driven behaviors and their regulation. Furthermore, understanding the molecular genetic basis of mosquito chemosensory behavior has important implications for vector control.