A Peptide Signaling System that Rapidly Enforces Paternity in the Aedes aegypti Mosquito

Laura B. Duvall, Nipun S. Basrur, Henrik Molina, Conor McMeniman, Leslie B. Vosshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes typically mate only once with one male in their lifetime, a behavior known as “monandry” [1]. This single mating event provisions the female with sufficient sperm to fertilize the >500 eggs she will produce during her ∼4- to 6-week lifespan in the laboratory [2]. Successful mating induces lifetime refractoriness to subsequent insemination by other males, enforcing the paternity of the first male [3–5]. Ae. aegypti mate in flight near human hosts [6], and females become refractory to remating within seconds [1, 3, 4], suggesting the existence of a rapid mechanism to prevent female remating. In this study, we implicate HP-I, an Aedes- and male-specific peptide transferred to females [7], and its cognate receptor in the female, NPYLR1 [8], in rapid enforcement of paternity. HP-I mutant males were ineffective in enforcing paternity when a second male was given access to the female within 1 hr. NPYLR1 mutant females produced mixed paternity offspring at high frequency, indicating acceptance of multiple mates. Synthetic HP-I injected into wild-type, but not NPYLR1 mutant, virgins reduced successful matings. Asian tiger mosquito (Ae. albopictus) HP-I peptides potently activated Ae. aegypti NPYLR1. Invasive Ae. albopictus males are known to copulate with and effectively sterilize Ae. aegypti females by causing them to reject future mates [9]. Cross-species transfer of sperm and active seminal fluid proteins including HP-I may contribute to this phenomenon. This signaling system promotes rapid paternity enforcement within Ae. aegypti but may promote local extinction in areas where they compete with Ae. albopictus. Duvall et al. describe a rapidly acting peptide and cognate receptor system that acts to enforce paternity in the Aedes aegypti mosquito within 1 hr of copulation. HP-I peptide is transferred from males to females, where it acts on its receptor, NPYLR1. Understanding paternity enforcement is key for vector control and interspecies competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3734-3742.e5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 4 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aedes aegypti mosquito
  • Head Peptide-I
  • male seminal fluid proteins
  • mating behavior
  • paternity enforcement
  • peptides
  • satyrization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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