Plasmodium knowlesi, a simian malaria parasite, has been in the limelight since a large focus of human P. knowlesi infection was reported from Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) in 2004. Although this infection is transmitted across Southeast Asia, the largest number of cases has been reported from Malaysia. The increasing number of knowlesi malaria cases has been attributed to the use of molecular tools for detection, but environmental changes including deforestation likely play a major role by increasing human exposure to vector mosquitoes, which coexist with the macaque host.
A Cas9/guide RNA-based gene drive strain, AgNosCd-1, was developed to deliver antiparasite effector molecules to the malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles gambiae The drive system targets the cardinal gene ortholog producing a red-eye phenotype. Drive can achieve 98 to 100% in both sexes and full introduction was observed in small cage trials within 6 to 10 generations following a single release of gene-drive males.
Small laboratory cage trials of non-drive and gene-drive strains of the Asian malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles stephensi, were used to investigate release ratios and other strain properties for their impact on transgene spread during simulated population modification. We evaluated the effects of transgenes on survival, male contributions to next-generation populations, female reproductive success and the impact of accumulation of gene drive-resistant genomic target sites resulting from nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) mutagenesis during Cas9, guide RNA-mediated cleavage.