Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cracking Eggs

Disrupting a protein called EOF1 in developing mosquito eggs blocks viable larval production

07 February 2019

Cracking Eggs

From malaria to Zika, mosquitoes are infamous vectors of serious diseases, so developing strategies to control their populations would help tackle multiple global health concerns. Recent research on the mosquito Aedes aegypti suggests that this could be achieved by compromising the structure of their eggs. Scientists identified a protein critical to the viability of mosquito eggs, named eggshell organising factor 1 (EOF1). Close-ups under an electron microscope reveal that, compared to healthy eggs (left-hand panels), eggs lacking EOF1 (right) have a different morphology, with larger bumps, or tubercles, on the eggs’ surface. These eggs are also paler, more porous and often collapse, failing to produce viable larvae. As it's specific to Culex, Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes, collectively responsible for transmitting several major diseases, disrupting EOF1 and the processes it controls could hopefully reduce mosquito populations without harming other insects, making it a particularly attractive target for future research.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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