Innate immune-related gene expression in the major disease vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae has been analyzed following infection by the malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei. Substantially increased levels of mRNAs encoding the antibacterial peptide defensin and a putative Gram-negative bacteria-binding protein (GNBP) are observed 20-30 h after ingestion of an infected blood-meal, at a time which indicates that this induction is a response to parasite invasion of the midgut epithelium. The induction is dependent upon the ingestion of infective, sexual-stage parasites, and is not due to opportunistic co-penetration of resident gut micro-organisms into the hemocoel. The response is activated following infection both locally (in the midgut) and systemically (in remaining tissues, presumably fat body and/or hemocytes). The observation that Plasmodium can trigger a molecularly defined immune response in the vector constitutes an important advance in our understanding of parasite-vector interactions that are potentially involved in malaria transmission, and extends knowledge of the innate immune system of insects to encompass responses to protozoan parasites.
- Insect immunity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)