Mosquito immune cells, known as hemocytes, are integral to cellular and humoral responses that limit pathogen survival and mediate immune priming. However, without reliable cell markers and genetic tools, studies of mosquito immune cells have been limited to morphological observations, leaving several aspects of their biology uncharacterized. Here, we use single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to characterize mosquito immune cells, demonstrating an increased complexity to previously defined prohemocyte, oenocytoid, and granulocyte subtypes. Through functional assays relying on phagocytosis, phagocyte depletion, and RNA-FISH experiments, we define markers to accurately distinguish immune cell subtypes and provide evidence for immune cell maturation and differentiation. In addition, gene-silencing experiments demonstrate the importance of lozenge in defining the mosquito oenocytoid cell fate. Together, our scRNA-seq analysis provides an important foundation for future studies of mosquito immune cell biology and a valuable resource for comparative invertebrate immunology.
Keywords: Anopheles gambiae; cellular immunity; genetics; genomics; hemocytes; immunology; inflammation; single-cell rna-seq.
© 2021, Kwon et al.