Functional genomics studies on the innate immunity of disease vectors

Luke A. Baton, Lindsey Garver, Zhiyong Xi, George Dimopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The increasing availability of genome sequences and the development of highthroughput techniques for gene expression profiling and functional characterization are transforming the study of innate immunity and other areas of insect biology. Already, functional genomic approaches have enabled a quantum advance in the characterization of mosquito immune responses to malaria parasite infection, and similar high-throughput functional genomic studies of other vector-pathogen interactions can be expected in the near future. The application of microarray-based and other expression analyses provide genomewide transcriptional profiles that can be used to identify insect immune system components that are differentially regulated upon exposure to various classes of pathogens, including many important etiologic agents of human and animal diseases. The role of infection-responsive or other candidate immune genes identified through comparative genomic approaches can then be functionally characterized, either in vivo, for instance in adult mosquitoes, or in vitro using cell lines. In most insect vectors of human pathogens, germ-line transgenesis is still technically difficult and maintenance of multiple transgenic lines logistically demanding. Consequently, transient RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene-silencing has rapidly become the method of choice for functional characterization of candidate innate immune genes. The powerful combination of transcriptional profiling in conjunction with assays using RNAi to determine gene function, and identify regulatory pathways, together with downstream cell biological approaches to determine protein localization and interactions, will continue to provide novel insights into the role of insect innate immunity in a variety of vector-pathogen interactions. Here we review advances in functional genomics studies of innate immunity in the insect disease vectors, over the past decade, with a particular focus on the Anopheles mosquito and its responses to malaria infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalInsect Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Anopheles
  • Genomics
  • Innate immunity
  • Insect
  • Malaria
  • Microarray
  • Mosquito
  • Parasite
  • Plasmodium
  • RNA interference
  • Transcriptomics
  • Ttransgenesis
  • Vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Insect Science


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