Scientists discover key regulator of sex chromosome gene expression in malaria mosquito

Scientists have discovered the protein that balances the expression of X chromosome genes between males and females in the malaria mosquito. This discovery could help us develop new ways to combat malaria, as only female mosquitoes bite and spread the disease. The research group, led by Dr. Claudia Keller Valsecchi at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz, Germany, and their collaborators, found that the protein SOA (sex chromosome activation) is the key regulator of X chromosome gene expression in male mosquitoes. SOA works by binding to X chromosome genes and increasing their expression, but only in males. Female mosquitoes, on the other hand, only produce a small amount of very short, non-functional SOA. The researchers speculate that genetically manipulating genes that exclusively affect one sex could be a useful strategy for reducing the number of blood-sucking female mosquitoes. This would be a huge boon in the fight against malaria, which kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, primarily in African countries.

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