Researchers identify that mosquitoes can sense toxins through their legs

December 25, 2019

Researchers at LSTM have identified a completely new mechanism by which mosquitoes that carry malaria are becoming resistant to insecticide.

After studying both Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles coluzzii, two major malaria vectors in West Africa, they found that a particular family of binding proteins situated in the insect's legs were highly expressed in resistant populations.

First author on a paper published today in the journal Nature, Dr Victoria Ingham, explains: "We have found a completely new insecticide resistance mechanism that we think is contributing to the lower than expected efficacy of bed nets. The protein, which is based in the legs, comes into direct contact with the insecticide as the insect lands on the net, making it an excellent potential target for future additives to nets to overcome this potent resistance mechanism."

Examining the Anopheline mosquitoes, the team demonstrated that the binding protein, SAP2, was found elevated in resistant populations and further elevated following contact with pyrethroids, the insecticide class used on all bed nets. They found that when levels of this protein were reduced, by partial silencing of the gene, susceptibility to pyrethroids were restored; conversely when the protein was expressed at elevated levels, previously susceptible mosquitoes became resistant to pyrethroids.

The increase in insecticide resistance across mosquito populations has led to the introduction of new insecticide treated bed nets containing the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO) as well as pyrethroid insecticides. The synergist targets one of the most widespread and previously most potent resistance mechanisms caused by the cytochrome P450s. However, mosquitoes are continually evolving new resistance mechanisms and the discovery of this new resistance mechanism provides an excellent opportunity to identify additional synergists that could be used to restore susceptibility

Professor Hilary Ranson is senior author on the paper. She said: "Long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets remain one of the key interventions in malaria control. It is vital that we understand and mitigate for resistance within mosquito populations in order to ensure that the dramatic reductions in disease rates in previous decades are not reversed. This newly discovered resistance mechanism could provide us with an important target for both the monitoring of insecticide resistance and the development of novel compounds able to block pyrethroid resistance and prevent the spread of malaria."
-end-


Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.