Anopheles gambiae pilot gene discovery project: identification of mosquito innate immunity genes from expressed sequence tags generated from immune-competent cell lines.
Together with AIDS and tuberculosis, malaria is at the top of the list of devastating infectious diseases. However, molecular genetic studies of its major vector, Anopheles gambiae, are still quite limited. We have conducted a pilot gene discovery project to accelerate progress in the molecular analysis of vector biology, with emphasis on the mosquito's antimalarial immune defense. A total of 5,925 expressed sequence tags were determined from normalized cDNA libraries derived from immune-responsive hemocyte-like cell lines. The 3,242 expressed sequence tag-containing cDNA clones were grouped into 2,380 clone clusters, potentially representing unique genes. Of these, 1,118 showed similarities to known genes from other organisms, but only 27 were identical to previously known mosquito genes. We identified 38 candidate genes, based on sequence similarity, that may be implicated in immune reactions including antimalarial defense; 19 of these were shown experimentally to be inducible by bacterial challenge, lending support to their proposed involvement in mosquito immunity.