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. 2017 Sep 2;14(9):1006.
doi: 10.3390/ijerph14091006.

Gene Drive for Mosquito Control: Where Did It Come From and Where Are We Headed?

Free PMC article

Gene Drive for Mosquito Control: Where Did It Come From and Where Are We Headed?

Vanessa M Macias et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. .
Free PMC article


Mosquito-borne pathogens place an enormous burden on human health. The existing toolkit is insufficient to support ongoing vector-control efforts towards meeting disease elimination and eradication goals. The perspective that genetic approaches can potentially add a significant set of tools toward mosquito control is not new, but the recent improvements in site-specific gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9 systems have enhanced our ability to both study mosquito biology using reverse genetics and produce genetics-based tools. Cas9-mediated gene-editing is an efficient and adaptable platform for gene drive strategies, which have advantages over innundative release strategies for introgressing desirable suppression and pathogen-blocking genotypes into wild mosquito populations; until recently, an effective gene drive has been largely out of reach. Many considerations will inform the effective use of new genetic tools, including gene drives. Here we review the lengthy history of genetic advances in mosquito biology and discuss both the impact of efficient site-specific gene editing on vector biology and the resulting potential to deploy new genetic tools for the abatement of mosquito-borne disease.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; gene editing; vector control.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the writing of this manuscript.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Genetic approaches to vector-borne disease offer a substantial complement to the existing tool-set. A scheme illustrating the contribution of specialized mosquito strains, including both transgenic and Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, to vector control. Each strategy is categorized on the right as modification or suppression, whether the strategy can utilize Cas9 gene-editing or gene drives are indicated with a star. Whether a specific mosquito life-cycle stage or the pathogen life-cycle are targeted is indicated by a red line. The center schematic is a stylistic representation of vector-borne pathogens and is included to illustrate where specialized mosquito strains can be used to inhibit pathogen development in the mosquito. A summary of existing, non-genetic tools is to the left of the schematic. RIDL: release of insects carrying a dominant lethal, SIT: sterile insect technique, CI: cytoplasmic incompatibility, LLIN: long-lasting insecticide treated nets, IRS: indoor residual spraying, ATSB: attractive toxic sugar baits.

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