Identification of Aedes aegypti cis-regulatory elements that promote gene expression in olfactory receptor neurons of distantly related dipteran insects

Keshava Mysore, Ping Li, Molly Duman-Scheel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Sophisticated tools for manipulation of gene expression in select neurons, including neurons that regulate sexually dimorphic behaviors, are increasingly available for analysis of genetic model organisms. However, we lack comparable genetic tools for analysis of non-model organisms, including Aedes aegypti, a vector mosquito which displays sexually dimorphic behaviors that contribute to pathogen transmission. Formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements followed by sequencing (FAIRE-seq) recently facilitated genome-wide discovery of putative A. aegypti cis-regulatory elements (CREs), many of which could be used to manipulate gene expression in mosquito neurons and other tissues. The goal of this investigation was to identify FAIRE DNA elements that promote gene expression in the olfactory system, a tissue of vector importance. Results: Eight A. aegypti CREs that promote gene expression in antennal olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) were identified in a Drosophila melanogaster transgenic reporter screen. Four CREs identified in the screen were cloned upstream of GAL4 in a transgenic construct that is compatible with transformation of a variety of insect species. These constructs, which contained FAIRE DNA elements associated with the A. aegypti odorant coreceptor (orco), odorant receptor 1 (Or1), odorant receptor 8 (Or8) and fruitless (fru) genes, were used for transformation of A. aegypti. Six A. aegypti strains, including strains displaying transgene expression in all ORNs, subsets of these neurons, or in a sex-specific fashion, were isolated. The CREs drove transgene expression in A. aegypti that corresponded to endogenous gene expression patterns of the orco, Or1, Or8 and fru genes in the mosquito antenna. CRE activity in A. aegypti was found to be comparable to that observed in D. melanogaster reporter assays. Conclusions: These results provide further evidence that FAIRE-seq, which can be paired with D. melanogaster reporter screening to test FAIRE DNA element activity in select tissues, is a useful method for identification of mosquito cis-regulatory elements. These findings expand the genetic toolkit available for the study of Aedes neurobiology. Moreover, given that the CREs drive comparable olfactory neural expression in both A. aegypti and D. melanogaster, it is likely that they may function similarly in multiple dipteran insects, including other disease vector mosquito species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number406
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 11 2018


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Antenna
  • Dengue
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Enhancer
  • Mosquito
  • Neuron
  • Sensory
  • Zika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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