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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

A mosquito-specific antennal protein is critical for the attraction to human odor in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae

Pelletier, Julien; Dawit, Mengistu; Ghaninia, Majid; Marois, Eric; Ignell, Rickard

Abstract

Mosquitoes rely mainly on the sense of smell to decipher their environment and locate suitable food sources, hosts for blood feeding and oviposition sites. The molecular bases of olfaction involve multigenic families of olfactory proteins that have evolved to interact with a narrow set of odorants that are critical for survival. Understanding the complex interplay between diversified repertoires of olfactory proteins and ecologicallyrelevant odorant signals, which elicit important behaviors, is fundamental for the design of novel control strategies targeting the sense of smell of disease vector mosquitoes. Previously, large multigene families of odorant receptor and ionotropic receptor proteins, as well as a subset of odorant-binding proteins have been shown to mediate the selectivity and sensitivity of the mosquito olfactory system. In this study, we identify a mosquitospecific antennal protein (MSAP) gene as a novel molecular actor of odorant reception. MSAP is highly conserved across mosquito species and is transcribed at an extremely high level in female antennae. In order to understand its role in the mosquito olfactory system, we generated knockout mutant lines in Anopheles gambiae, and performed comparative analysis of behavioral and physiological responses to human-associated odorants. We found that MSAP promotes female mosquito attraction to human odor and enhances the sensitivity of the antennae to a variety of odorants. These findings suggest that MSAP is an important component of the mosquito olfactory system, which until now has gone completely unnoticed.

Keywords

Mosquito; Olfaction; Chemoreception; Antenna

Published in

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2023, Volume: 159, article number: 103988
Publisher: PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD