Malpighian Tubules as Novel Targets for Mosquito Control.

The Malpighian tubules and hindgut are the renal excretory tissues of mosquitoes; they are essential to maintaining hemolymph water and solute homeostasis. Moreover, they make important contributions to detoxifying metabolic wastes and xenobiotics in the hemolymph. We have focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of Malpighian tubule function in adult female mosquitoes and developing chemical tools as prototypes for next-generation mosquitocides that would act via a novel mechanism of action (i.e., renal failure). To date, we have targeted inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels expressed in the Malpighian tubules of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Inhibition of these channels with small molecules inhibits transepithelial K⁺ and fluid secretion in Malpighian tubules, leading to a disruption of hemolymph K⁺ and fluid homeostasis in adult female mosquitoes. In addition, we have used next-generation sequencing to characterize the transcriptome of Malpighian tubules in the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus, before and after blood meals, to reveal new molecular targets for potentially disrupting Malpighian tubule function. Within 24 h after a blood meal, the Malpighian tubules enhance the mRNA expression of genes encoding mechanisms involved with the detoxification of metabolic wastes produced during blood digestion (e.g., heme, NH₃, reactive oxygen species). The development of chemical tools targeting these molecular mechanisms in Malpighian tubules may offer a promising avenue for the development of mosquitocides that are highly-selective against hematophagous females, which are the only life stage that transmits pathogens.

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