Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mosquitoes Fight off Malaria

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mosquitoes Fight off Malaria

Article excerpt

Researchers have identified a gene in mosquitoes that helps the insects to fight off infection by the Plasmodium parasite, which causes malaria in humans. Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasite to nearly 550 million people worldwide each year with these cases resulting in more than 2 million deaths annually. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The malaria-causing Plasmodium has a complex life cycle. Mosquitoes become infected with the parasite when they draw blood from humans who have malaria. As the parasite matures, it moves from the mosquito's midgut to its salivary glands. Once in the salivary glands, the Plasmodium can be injected into another human when the mosquito feeds again.

In the study, the researchers determined that the SPRN6 gene, which is normally switched off in Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, is switched on when they are infected with the malaria parasite. To determine the function of SPRN6, the researchers deactivated the gene in the mosquitoes through RNA interference. …

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