Identification of genes for engineering the male germline of Aedes aegypti and Ceratitis capitata.
Sutton ER., Yu Y., Shimeld SM., White-Cooper H., Alphey AL.
BACKGROUND: Synthetic biology approaches are promising new strategies for control of pest insects that transmit disease and cause agricultural damage. These strategies require characterised modular components that can direct appropriate expression of effector sequences, with components conserved across species being particularly useful. The goal of this study was to identify genes from which new potential components could be derived for manipulation of the male germline in two major pest species, the mosquito Aedes aegypti and the tephritid fruit fly Ceratitis capitata. RESULTS: Using RNA-seq data from staged testis samples, we identified several candidate genes with testis-specific expression and suitable expression timing for use of their regulatory regions in synthetic control constructs. We also developed a novel computational pipeline to identify candidate genes with testis-specific splicing from this data; use of alternative splicing is another method for restricting expression in synthetic systems. Some of the genes identified display testis-specific expression or splicing that is conserved across species; these are particularly promising candidates for construct development. CONCLUSIONS: In this study we have identified a set of genes with testis-specific expression or splicing. In addition to their interest from a basic biology perspective, these findings provide a basis from which to develop synthetic systems to control important pest insects via manipulation of the male germline.