High-throughput cis-regulatory element discovery in the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti

Susanta K. Behura, Joseph Sarro, Ping Li, Keshava Mysore, David W. Severson, Scott J. Emrich, Molly Duman-Scheel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Background: Despite substantial progress in mosquito genomic and genetic research, few cis-regulatory elements (CREs), DNA sequences that control gene expression, have been identified in mosquitoes or other non-model insects. Formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements paired with DNA sequencing, FAIRE-seq, is emerging as a powerful new high-throughput tool for global CRE discovery. FAIRE results in the preferential recovery of open chromatin DNA fragments that are not bound by nucleosomes, an evolutionarily conserved indicator of regulatory activity, which are then sequenced. Despite the power of the approach, FAIRE-seq has not yet been applied to the study of non-model insects. In this investigation, we utilized FAIRE-seq to profile open chromatin and identify likely regulatory elements throughout the genome of the human disease vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. We then assessed genetic variation in the regulatory elements of dengue virus susceptible (Moyo-S) and refractory (Moyo-R) mosquito strains. Results: Analysis of sequence data obtained through next generation sequencing of FAIRE DNA isolated from A. aegypti embryos revealed >121,000 FAIRE peaks (FPs), many of which clustered in the 1 kb 5' upstream flanking regions of genes known to be expressed at this stage. As expected, known transcription factor consensus binding sites were enriched in the FPs, and of these FoxA1, Hunchback, Gfi, Klf4, MYB/ph3 and Sox9 are most predominant. All of the elements tested in vivo were confirmed to drive gene expression in transgenic Drosophila reporter assays. Of the >13,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) recently identified in dengue virus-susceptible and refractory mosquito strains, 3365 were found to map to FPs. Conclusion: FAIRE-seq analysis of open chromatin in A. aegypti permitted genome-wide discovery of CREs. The results of this investigation indicate that FAIRE-seq is a powerful tool for identification of regulatory DNA in the genomes of non-model organisms, including human disease vector mosquitoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number341
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 10 2016


  • Dengue virus
  • Drosophila
  • FAIRE-seq
  • Genome
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Zika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics

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