Mosquito-borne diseases cause one million deaths and hundreds of millions of human infections yearly. With all such diseases, the pathogen must traverse the mosquito salivary gland (SG) for transmission to a new host, making the SGs ideal targets for genetic strategies to block transmission. Prior studies have elucidated details of SG structure by light and electron microscopy and have deeply explored the salivary transcriptome and proteome. Very little is known, however, about how the unique functional architecture of mosquito SGs is achieved. Using immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, we address two questions regarding SGs of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. How does the distinct cup-shaped morphology of SG secretory cells arise? And, how does the salivary duct, the structure through which saliva and parasites exit the glands, form? We demonstrate that SG cells begin as cuboidal-shaped cells surrounding a matrix-filled lumen that mature into cup-shaped cells through the formation and fusion of a large pre-apical compartment (PAC) to the apical surface. The secretory duct begins as buds of chitin at the apical surface of individual secretory cells. Further chitin deposition connects these chitin buds to form a contiguous duct that largely separates from the apical surface during PAC fusion.
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