RIVERSIDE, Calif. Last year, 720 people in the United States became infected with West Nile virus, a potentially serious illness that is spread through the bite of a mosquito the Culex mosquito that has first fed on infected birds. Such mosquitoes have the virus eventually located in their salivary glands and transmit the disease to humans and animals when they bite to draw blood.
To understand the genetic makeup of the Culex mosquito, and how the insect is able to transmit this and other viruses, an international team of scientists, led by geneticists at the University of California, Riverside, has sequenced the genome of Culex quinquefasciatus, a representative of the Culex genus (or group) of mosquitoes.
A close study of the genome, the researchers say, could give scientists the clues they need to target specific Culex genes that are involved in the transmission of West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis and other diseases spread by the Culex group of mosquitoes. Knowledge of such genes would be an important step in developing strategies to combat the spread of these pathogens.
The genomes of Anopheles gambiae (which transmits malaria) and Aedes aegypti (which transmits yellow fever and dengue) were published in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Now, with the sequencing of Culex quinquefasciatus, scientists have completed the triangulation of entire genome sequences of three genera of mosquitoes that are the main vectors of deadly human diseases, and will have access to representative genomes from the three mosquito groups.
"We can now compare and contrast all three mosquito genomes, and identify not only their common genes but also what is unique to each mosquito," said Peter Arensburger, an assistant research entomologist in the Center for Disease Vector Research and the
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California -- Riverside