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1.  Ribose-phosphate pyrophosphokinase 1 (PRPS1) associated with deltamethrin resistance in Culex pipiens pallens 
Parasitology research  2012;112(2):847-854.
Ribose-phosphate pyrophosphokinase 1 (PRPS1) was identified and isolated as a differentially expressed gene between deltamethrin-susceptible (DS) and deltamethrin-resistant (DR) Culex pipiens pallens and Aedes albopictus C6/36 cell line through microarray and 2D-Gel. An open reading frame of PRPS1 cloned from C. pipiens pallens has 1,011 bp and encodes for a 336 amino acids protein which shares high homology with Culex quinquefasciatus. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the transcript expression level of PRPS1 in DS and DR strains. The expression levels of PRPS1 were higher in DR laboratory strains and natural population JXZ-DR, JXZ-LDR. PRPS1 was also detected and expressed at all developmental stages of C. pipiens pallens and increased expression level in DR3 strain than DS strain in the third and fourth instar larvae, female and male stages. In addition, to further investigate the role of PRPS1 in deltamethrin resistance, PRPS1 was transiently expressed in A. albopictus C6/36 cells and detected by western blotting. Cells transfected with PRPS1 had an increased resistance to deltamethrin compared with control cells. These results suggested that the increased expression level of PRPS1 may play roles in the regulation of deltamethrin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3720864  PMID: 23250545
2.  Cloning and characterization of prophenoloxidase A3 (proPOA3) from Culex pipiens pallens 
The prophenoloxidase subunit A3 (proPOA3) gene was cloned from Culex pipiens pallens, which had an open reading frame of 2,061 bp encoding a putative 686 amino acid protein. The deduced amino acid sequence shares 98% with proPOA3 from Cx. quinquefasciatus. ProPOA3 is expressed at all developmental stages of Cx. pipiens pallens. Significant negative correlation was observed between proPOA3 expression and deltamethrin resistance in resistant Cx. pipiens pallens. Furthermore, proPOA3 expression levels were significantly lower in deltamethrin-resistant mosquitoes than in susceptible mosquitoes collected at four locations in Eastern China. However, we did not find any substantial change in proPOA3 expression in field-collected resistant Anopheles mosquitoes. Moreover, overexpressing proPOA3 in C6/36 cells led to more sensitivity to deltamethrin treatment. In laboratory and field-collected resistant Cx. pipiens pallens, a valine to isoleucine mutation (769G>A) and two synonymous mutations (1116G>C and 1116G>A) were identified in proPOA3. In addition, the mutation frequency of 769G>A and 1116G>C increased gradually, which corresponded with raised deltamethrin resistance levels. Taken together, our study provides the first evidence that proPOA3 may play a role in the regulation of deltamethrin-resistance in Cx. pipiens pallens.
PMCID: PMC3365641  PMID: 22561195
Culex pipiens pallens; deltamethrin resistance; prophenoloxidase; mutation
3.  Molecular cloning and preliminary function study of iron responsive element binding protein 1 gene from cypermethrin-resistant Culex pipiens pallens 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:215.
Insecticide resistance jeopardizes the control of mosquito populations and mosquito-borne disease control, which creates a major public health concern. Two-dimensional electrophoresis identified one protein segment with high sequence homology to part of Aedes aegypti iron-responsive element binding protein (IRE-BP).
RT-PCR and RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA end) were used to clone a cDNA encoding full length IRE-BP 1. Real-time quantitative RT-PCR was used to evaluate the transcriptional level changes in the Cr-IRE strain Aedes aegypti compared to the susceptible strain of Cx. pipiens pallens. The expression profile of the gene was established in the mosquito life cycle. Methyl tritiated thymidine (3H-TdR) was used to observe the cypermethrin resistance changes in C6/36 cells containing the stably transfected IRE-BP 1 gene of Cx. pipiens pallens.
The complete sequence of iron responsive element binding protein 1 (IRE-BP 1) has been cloned from the cypermethrin-resistant strain of Culex pipiens pallens (Cr-IRE strain). Quantitative RT-PCR analysis indicated that the IRE-BP 1 transcription level was 6.7 times higher in the Cr-IRE strain than in the susceptible strain of 4th instar larvae. The IRE-BP 1 expression was also found to be consistently higher throughout the life cycle of the Cr-IRE strain. A protein of predicted size 109.4 kDa has been detected by Western blotting in IRE-BP 1-transfected mosquito C6/36 cells. These IRE-BP 1-transfected cells also showed enhanced cypermethrin resistance compared to null-transfected or plasmid vector-transfected cells as determined by 3H-TdR incorporation.
IRE-BP 1 is expressed at higher levels in the Cr-IRE strain, and may confer some insecticide resistance in Cx. pipiens pallens.
PMCID: PMC3223502  PMID: 22075242
The Culex pipiens complex in Asia includes a temperate subspecies, Culex pipiens pallens, of uncertain taxonomic status. The shape of the male genitalia suggests it is a hybrid between Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus. We studied populations of Cx. p. pallens in Japan, Korea, and China and compared them to local populations of Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. p. pipiens. We examined variation in a nuclear intron in the acetylcholinesterase-2 gene [ACE] and eight microsatellite loci. We found a distinct microsatellite signature for Cx. p. pallens indicating restricted gene flow between Eastern and Western populations of Cx. pipiens, supporting the existence of two subspecies. Furthermore, a multilocus genotype analysis revealed current hybridization between Cx. p. pallens and Cx. quinquefasciatus in southern Japan, Republic of Korea, and China but not in Hokkaido, in northern Japan. Surprisingly, however, we found that the sex-linked ACE locus in chromosome I has introgressed asymmetrically through the males such that all male Cx. p. pallens have a copy of the Cx. quinquefasciatus ACE locus. This result highlights some of the potential consequences of hybridization between local and introduced species to disease transmission worldwide.
PMCID: PMC2787783  PMID: 19584006
5.  Molecular Ecology of Pyrethroid Knockdown Resistance in Culex pipiens pallens Mosquitoes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11681.
Pyrethroid insecticides have been extensively used in China and worldwide for public health pest control. Accurate resistance monitoring is essential to guide the rational use of insecticides and resistance management. Here we examined the nucleotide diversity of the para-sodium channel gene, which confers knockdown resistance (kdr) in Culex pipiens pallens mosquitoes in China. The sequence analysis of the para-sodium channel gene identified L1014F and L1014S mutations. We developed and validated allele-specific PCR and the real-time TaqMan methods for resistance diagnosis. The real-time TaqMan method is more superior to the allele-specific PCR method as evidenced by higher amplification rate and better sensitivity and specificity. Significant positive correlation between kdr allele frequency and bioassay-based resistance phenotype demonstrates that the frequency of L1014F and L1014S mutations in the kdr gene can be used as a molecular marker for deltamethrin resistance monitoring in natural Cx. pipiens pallens populations in the East China region. The laboratory selection experiment found that L1014F mutation frequency, but not L1014S mutation, responded to deltamethrin selection, suggesting that the L1014F mutation is the key mutation conferring resistance to deltamethrin. High L1014F mutation frequency detected in six populations of Cx. pipens pallens suggests high prevalence of pyrethroid resistance in Eastern China, calling for further surveys to map the resistance in China and for investigating alternative mosquito control strategies.
PMCID: PMC2908134  PMID: 20657783
6.  Correlation between carboxylesterase alleles and insecticide resistance in Culex pipiens complex from China 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:236.
In China, large amounts of chemical insecticides are applied in fields or indoors every year, directly or indirectly bringing selection pressure on vector mosquitoes. Culex pipiens complex has evolved to be resistant to all types of chemical insecticides, especially organophosphates, through carboxylesterases. Six resistant carboxylesterase alleles (Ester) were recorded previously and sometimes co-existed in one field population, representing a complex situation for the evolution of Ester genes.
In order to explore the evolutionary scenario, we analyzed the data from an historical record in 2003 and a recent investigation on five Culex pipiens pallens populations sampled from north China in 2010. Insecticide bioassays showed that these five populations had high resistance to pyrethroids, medium resistance to organophosphates, and low resistance to carbamates. Six types of Ester alleles, EsterB1, Ester2, Ester8, Ester9, EsterB10, and Ester11 were identified, and the overall pattern of their frequencies in geographic distribution was consistent with the report seven years prior to this study. Statistical correlation analysis indicated that Ester8 and Ester9 positively correlated with resistance to four insecticides, and EsterB10 to one insecticide. The occurrences of these three alleles were positively correlated, while the occurrence of EsterB1 was negatively correlated with Ester8, indicating an allelic competition.
Our analysis suggests that one insecticide can select multiple Ester alleles and one Ester allele can work on multiple insecticides. The evolutionary scenario of carboxylesterases under insecticide selection is possibly "one to many".
PMCID: PMC3259124  PMID: 22177233
insecticide resistance; carboxylesterases; mosquito; evolution
The transmission of vector-borne pathogens is greatly influenced by the ecology of their vector, which is in turn shaped by genetic ancestry, the environment, and the hosts it feeds on. One group of vectors, the mosquitoes in the Culex pipiens complex, play key roles in the transmission of a range of pathogens including several viruses such as West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses, avian malaria (Plasmodium spp.), and filarial worms. The Cx. pipiens complex includes Cx. pipiens pipiens with two forms, pipiens and molestus, Cx. pipiens pallens, Cx. quinquefasciatus, Cx. australicus, and Cx. globocoxitus. While several members of the complex have limited geographic distributions, Cx. pipiens pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus are found in all known urban and sub-urban temperate and tropical regions, respectively, across the world, where they are often principal disease vectors. In addition, hybrids are common in areas of overlap. Although gaps in our knowledge still remain, the advent of genetic tools has greatly enhanced our understanding of the history of speciation, domestication, dispersal, and hybridization. We review the taxonomy, genetics, evolution, behavior, and ecology, of members of the Cx. pipiens complex and their role in the transmission of medically important pathogens. The adaptation of Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes to human-altered environments led to their global distribution through dispersal via humans and, combined with their mixed feeding patterns on birds and mammals (including humans), increased the transmission of several avian pathogens to humans. We highlight several unanswered questions that will increase our ability to control diseases transmitted by these mosquitoes.
PMCID: PMC3190018  PMID: 21875691
Vector borne disease; invasive; West Nile virus; arbovirus; bridge vector; vector competence; Plasmodium
8.  Naturally Occurring Incompatibilities between Different Culex pipiens pallens Populations as the Basis of Potential Mosquito Control Measures 
Vector-borne diseases remain a threat to public health, especially in tropical countries. The incompatible insect technique has been explored as a potential control strategy for several important insect vectors. However, this strategy has not been tested in Culex pipiens pallens, the most prevalent mosquito species in China. Previous works used introgression to generate new strains that matched the genetic backgrounds of target populations while harboring a new Wolbachia endosymbiont, resulting in mating competitiveness and cytoplasmic incompatibility. The generation of these incompatible insects is often time-consuming, and the long-term stability of the newly created insect-Wolbachia symbiosis is uncertain. Considering the wide distribution of Cx. pipiens pallens and hence possible isolation of different populations, we sought to test for incompatibilities between natural populations and the possibility of exploiting these incompatibilities as a control strategy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Three field populations were collected from three geographic locations in eastern China. Reciprocal cross results showed that bi-directional patterns of incompatibility existed between some populations. Mating competition experiments indicated that incompatible males could compete with cognate males in mating with females, leading to reduced overall fecundity. F1 offspring from incompatible crosses maintained their maternal crossing types. All three populations tested positive for Wolbachia. Removal of Wolbachia by tetracycline rendered matings between these populations fully compatible.
Our findings indicate that naturally occurring patterns of cytoplasmic incompatibility between Cx. pipiens pallens populations can be the basis of a control strategy for this important vector species. The observed incompatibilities are caused by Wolbachia. More tests including field trials are warranted to evaluate the feasibility of this strategy as a supplement to other control measures.
Author Summary
Population suppression is an important component of mosquito control measures. The incompatible insect technique exploits the monogamous mating behavior of female mosquitoes to decrease the percentage of females inseminated by compatible males and hence reduce overall fecundity. Previous studies used genetically engineered Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes as the sources of incompatible males. The long-term stability of these mosquitoes is unknown. In this study, we examined naturally occurring incompatibilities between different field populations of Culex pipiens pallens, a vector of West Nile Virus and filarial worms widely distributed in China. We found that bi-directional patterns of incompatibility existed between some Cx. pipiens pallens populations. Incompatible males could compete against cognate males in mating with females and suppress reproduction. The level of suppression depended on the relative population sizes of incompatible and cognate males. We also found that these incompatibilities were preserved in the offspring from incompatible crosses, indicating that this control strategy is likely to be sustainable when applied repeatedly to successive mosquito generations. Our data also indicate that these incompatibilities were caused by endosymbiont Wolbachia, which is also the basis for cytoplasmic incompatibility in a variety of mosquito species. Our results may help to design simpler and more time-effective control strategies for a number of vector-borne diseases.
PMCID: PMC3561155  PMID: 23383354
9.  The effect of three environmental conditions on the fitness of cytochrome P450 monooxygenase-mediated permethrin resistance in Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus 
The evolution of insecticide resistance and persistence of resistance phenotypes are influenced by the fitness of resistance alleles in the absence of insecticide pressure. Experimental determination of fitness is difficult, but fitness can be inferred by measuring changes in allele frequencies in appropriate environments. We conducted allele competition experiments by crossing two highly related strains of Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. One strain (ISOP450) was permethrin resistant (due to P450-mediated detoxification) and one was a susceptible strain. Allele and genotype frequencies were examined for 12 generations under three environmental conditions: standard laboratory, temephos exposure (an insecticide to which the P450 detoxification mechanism in ISOP450 confers no resistance and which is commonly used in mosquito control programs) and cold temperature stress (mimics the colder temperatures within the habitat of this mosquito).
A fitness cost was inferred for the P450 mechanism in the standard laboratory environment. A greater cost was associated with the temephos exposed environment, suggesting the temephos placed an additional stress on the P450 resistant mosquitoes. No observed cost was associated with the P450 resistance locus in the cold temperature environment, but there was a significant heterozygote advantage. In all environments the fitness of the resistant homozygotes was the lowest.
The cytochrome P450-mediated permethrin detoxification resistance in Cx. p. quinquefasciatus can have an associated fitness cost in the absence of permethrin, relative to a susceptible allele. The strength of the cost varies depending on the environmental conditions. P450-mediated resistance is expected to decrease over time if the permethrin application is relaxed and to decrease at an even faster rate if permethrin is replaced with temephos. Additionally, these results indicate that a P450 resistance allele can persist (especially in heterozygotes) in colder temperatures and could potentially be carried into the Culex pipiens hybrid zone.
PMCID: PMC2661048  PMID: 19228410
10.  Insecticide resistance to organophosphates in Culex pipiens complex from Lebanon 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:132.
Analysis of Culex pipiens mosquitoes collected from a single site in Lebanon in 2005, revealed an alarming frequency of ace-1 alleles conferring resistance to organophosphate insecticides. Following this, in 2006 the majority of municipalities switched to pyrethroids after a long history of organophosphate usage in the country; however, since then no studies have assessed the impact of changing insecticide class on the frequency of resistant ace-1 alleles in C. pipiens.
C. pipiens mosquitoes were captured indoors from 25 villages across the country and subjected to established methods for the analysis of gene amplification at the Ester locus and target site mutations in ace-1 gene that confer resistance to organophosphates.
We conducted the first large-scale screen for resistance to organosphosphates in C. pipiens mosquitoes collected from Lebanon. The frequency of carboxylesterase (Ester) and ace-1 alleles conferring resistance to organophosphates were assessed among C. pipiens mosquitoes collected from 25 different villages across the country between December 2008 and December 2009. Established enzymatic assay and PCR-based molecular tests, both diagnostic of the major target site mutations in ace-1 revealed the absence of the F290V mutation among sampled mosquitoes and significant reduction in the frequency of G119S mutation compared to that previously reported for mosquitoes collected from Beirut in 2005. We also identified a new duplicated ace-1 allele, named ace-1D13, exhibiting a resistant phenotype by associating a susceptible and a resistant copy of ace-1 in a mosquito line sampled from Beirut in 2005. Fisher’s exact test on ace-1 frequencies in the new sample sites, showed that some populations exhibited a significant excess of heterozygotes, suggesting that the duplicated allele is still present. Starch gel electrophoresis indicated that resistance at the Ester locus was mainly attributed to the Ester2 allele, which exhibits a broad geographical distribution.
Our analysis suggests that the frequency of resistant ace-1 alleles in mosquito populations can be downshifted, and in certain cases (F290V mutation) even eliminated, by switching to a different class of insecticides, possibly because of the fitness cost associated with these alleles.
PMCID: PMC3414835  PMID: 22759898
Insecticide resistance; Acetylcholine esterase; Culex pipiens
11.  Requirement of Glycosylation of West Nile Virus Envelope Protein for Infection of, but Not Spread within, Culex quinquefasciatus Mosquito Vectors 
Most of sequenced West Nile virus (WNV) genomes encode a single N-linked glycosylation site on their envelope (E) proteins. We previously found that WNV lacking the E protein glycan was severely inhibited in its ability to replicate and spread within two important mosquito vector species, Culex pipiens and Cx. tarsalis. However, recent work with a closely related species, Cx. pipiens pallens, found no association between E protein glycosylation and either replication or dissemination. To examine this finding further, we expanded upon our previous studies to include an additional Culex species, Cx. quinquefasciatus. The non-glycosylated WNV-N154I virus replicated less efficiently in mosquito tissues after intrathoracic inoculation, but there was little difference in replication efficiency in the midgut after peroral infection. Interestingly, although infectivity was inhibited when WNV lacked the E protein glycan, there was little difference in viral spread throughout the mosquito. These data indicate that E protein glycosylation affects WNV–vector interactions in a species-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC3144839  PMID: 21813861
12.  Cloning and Expression of Two Crystal Protein Genes, cry30Ba1 and cry44Aa1, Obtained from a Highly Mosquitocidal Strain, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus INA288 
Two novel crystal protein genes, cry30Ba and cry44Aa, were cloned from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus INA288 and expressed in an acrystalliferous strain. Cry44Aa crystals were highly toxic to second-instar Culex pipiens pallens (50% mortality concentration [LC50] = 6 ng/ml) and Aedes aegypti (LC50 = 12 ng/ml); however, Cry30Ba crystals were not toxic.
PMCID: PMC1538732  PMID: 16885329
13.  The Transcriptome Profile of the Mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus following Permethrin Selection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47163.
To gain valuable insights into the gene interaction and the complex regulation system involved in the development of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes Culex quinquefasciatus, we conducted a whole transcriptome analysis of Culex mosquitoes following permethrin selection. Gene expression profiles for the lower resistant parental mosquito strain HAmCqG0 and their permethrin-selected high resistant offspring HAmCqG8 were compared and a total of 367 and 3982 genes were found to be up- and down-regulated, respectively, in HAmCqG8, indicating that multiple genes are involved in response to permethrin selection. However, a similar overall cumulative gene expression abundance was identified between up- and down-regulated genes in HAmCqG8 mosquitoes following permethrin selection, suggesting a homeostatic response to insecticides through a balancing of the up- and down-regulation of the genes. While structural and/or cuticular structural functions were the only two enriched GO terms for down-regulated genes, the enriched GO terms obtained for the up-regulated genes occurred primarily among the catalytic and metabolic functions where they represented three functional categories: electron carrier activity, binding, and catalytic activity. Interestingly, the functional GO terms in these three functional categories were overwhelmingly overrepresented in P450s and proteases/serine proteases. The important role played by P450s in the development of insecticide resistance has been extensively studied but the function of proteases/serine proteases in resistance is less well understood. Hence, the characterization of the functions of these proteins, including their digestive, catalytic and proteinase activities; regulation of signaling transduction and protein trafficking, immunity and storage; and their precise function in the development of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes will provide new insights into how genes are interconnected and regulated in resistance.
PMCID: PMC3465273  PMID: 23071746
14.  Reexamination of Culex pipiens Hybridization Zone in the Eastern United States by Ribosomal DNA-Based Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Markers 
Mosquitoes in the Culex pipiens complex are important vectors of several disease-causing pathogens, including West Nile virus. In North America, the complex consists of Cx. pipiens pipiens form pipiens, Cx. pipiens pipiens form molestus, Cx. pipiens quinquefasciatus, and their hybrids that exhibit substantial diversity in physiology, behavior, and geographic range. Hybridization among these mosquitoes is of concern because of potential implications for disease transmission. Currently, several morphological and molecular markers exist for differentiating members of the Cx. pipiens complex; however, these markers have specific limitations. We report here two highly reliable ribosomal DNA-based single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, CxpG2T and CxpA2d, for detecting Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes containing Cx. p. quinquefasciatus alleles. Both CxpG2T and CxpA2d contain one allele that is present in all members of the Cx. pipiens complex, and the other allele is specific to Cx. p. quinquefasciatus. Testing of field populations from the eastern United States showed that these two SNP markers are capable of identifying a south to north gradient of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus and hybrids. The northern limit of detection of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus alleles in this study was in Fort Totten, NY (40.79°N), whereas the southern boundary was determined between Atlanta, GA (33.81°N) and Gainesville, FL (29.64°N). CxpG2T and CxpA2d were more accurate than the ACE-2 marker, and they may conceivably provide comparable resolution with microsatellite markers for detecting Cx. p. quinquefasciatus alleles.
PMCID: PMC3163862  PMID: 21896800
15.  An overview of the evolution of overproduced esterases in the mosquito Culex pipiens. 
Insecticide resistance genes have developed in a wide variety of insects in response to heavy chemical application. Few of these examples of adaptation in response to rapid environmental change have been studied both at the population level and at the gene level. One of these is the evolution of the overproduced esterases that are involved in resistance to organophosphate insecticides in the mosquito Culex pipiens. At the gene level, two genetic mechanisms are involved in esterase overproduction, namely gene amplification and gene regulation. At the population level, the co-occurrence of the same amplified allele in distinct geographic areas is best explained by the importance of passive transportation at the worldwide scale. The long-term monitoring of a population of mosquitoes in southern France has enabled a detailed study to be made of the evolution of resistance genes on a local scale, and has shown that a resistance gene with a lower cost has replaced a former resistance allele with a higher cost.
PMCID: PMC1692391  PMID: 10021771
16.  Evolutionary Adaptation of the Amino Acid and Codon Usage of the Mosquito Sodium Channel following Insecticide Selection in the Field Mosquitoes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47609.
Target site insensitivity resulting from point mutations within the voltage-gated sodium channel of the insect nervous system is known to be of primary importance in the development of resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. This study shifts current research paradigms by conducting, for the first time, a global analysis of all the naturally occurring mutations, both nonsynonymous and synonymous mutations, as well as mutation combinations in the entire mosquito sodium channel of Culex quinquefasciatus and analyzing their evolutionary and heritable feature and roles in insecticide resistance. Through a systematic analysis of comparing nucleotide polymorphisms in the entire sodium channel cDNAs of individuals between susceptible and resistant mosquito strains, between field parental mosquitoes and their permethrin selected offspring, and among different mosquito groups categorized by their levels of tolerance to specific permethrin concentrations within and among the mosquito strains of the field parental strains and their permethrin selected offspring, 3 nonsynonymous (A109S, L982F, and W1573R) and 6 synonymous (L852, G891, A1241, D1245, P1249, and G1733) mutations were identified. The co-existence of all 9 mutations, both nonsynonymous and synonymous, and their homozygousity were found to be important factors for high levels of resistance. Our study, for the first time, provide a strong case demonstrating the co-existence of both nonsynonymous and synonymous mutations in the sodium channel of resistant mosquitoes in response to insecticide resistance and the inheritance of these mutations in the offspring of field mosquito strains following insecticide selection.
PMCID: PMC3474719  PMID: 23082181
17.  The impact of insecticide resistance on Culex pipiens immunity 
Evolutionary Applications  2012;6(3):497-509.
Because of their role as vectors of diseases, the evolution of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes has been intensively investigated. Insecticide resistance is associated to a wide range of pleiotropic effects on several key life-history traits of mosquitoes such as longevity and behavior. However, despite its potential implications in pathogen transmission, the effects of insecticide resistance on mosquito immunity have received little, if any, attention. Here, we investigate the impact of insecticide resistance in Culex pipiens, an epidemiologically important vector of a wide array of pathogens. Using both isogenic laboratory strains and field-caught mosquitoes, we investigate the impact of two main insecticide resistance mechanisms (metabolic detoxification and target site modification) on the relative transcription of several genes involved in the immune response to pathogens, at both their constitutive and inducible levels. Our results show a discrepancy between the isogenic laboratory lines and field-collected mosquitoes: While in the isogenic strains, insecticide-resistant mosquitoes show a drastic increase in immune gene expression, no such effect appears in the field. We speculate on the different mechanisms that may underlie this discrepancy and discuss the risks of making inferences on the pleiotropic effects of insecticide-resistant genes by using laboratory-selected insecticide-resistant lines.
PMCID: PMC3673477  PMID: 23745141
acetylcholinesterase; anopheles; antimicrobial peptide; carboxylesterases; nitric oxide; transferrin
18.  Host Feeding Patterns of Culex Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus Transmission, Northeastern United States 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(3):468-474.
Culex salinarius is a bridge vector to humans, while Cx. pipiens and Cx. restuans are more efficient enzootic vectors.
To evaluate the role of Culex mosquitoes as enzootic and epidemic vectors for WNV, we identified the source of vertebrate blood by polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequencing portions of the cytochrome b gene of mitochondrial DNA. All Cx. restuans and 93% of Cx. pipiens acquired blood from avian hosts; Cx. salinarius fed frequently on both mammals (53%) and birds (36%). Mixed-blood meals were detected in 11% and 4% of Cx. salinarius and Cx. pipiens, respectively. American robin was the most common source of vertebrate blood for Cx. pipiens (38%) and Cx. restuans (37%). American crow represented <1% of the blood meals in Cx. pipiens and none in Cx. restuans. Human-derived blood meals were identified from 2 Cx. salinarius and 1 Cx. pipiens. Results suggest that Cx. salinarius is an important bridge vector to humans, while Cx. pipiens and Cx. restuans are more efficient enzootic vectors in the northeastern United States.
PMCID: PMC3291451  PMID: 16704786
Blood feeding pattern; Mosquitoes; Culex pipiens; Culex restuans; Culex salinarius; Bridge vector; Turdus migratorius; Odocoileus virginianus; West Nile virus; Cytochrome b gene
19.  The distribution of potential West Nile virus vectors, Culex pipiens pipiens and Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae), in Mexico City 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:70.
Culex spp. mosquitoes are considered to be the most important vectors of West Nile virus (WNV) detected in at least 34 species of mosquitoes in the United States. In North America, Culex pipiens pipiens, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus, and Culex tarsalis are all competent vectors of WNV, which is considered to be enzootic in the United States and has also been detected in equines and birds in many states of Mexico and in humans in Nuevo Leon. There is potential for WNV to be introduced into Mexico City by various means including infected mosquitoes on airplanes, migrating birds, ground transportation and infected humans. Little is known of the geographic distribution of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes and hybrids in Mexico City. Culex pipiens pipiens preferentially feed on avian hosts; Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus have historically been considered to prefer mammalian hosts; and hybrids of these two species could theoretically serve as bridge vectors to transmit WNV from avian hosts to humans and other mammalian hosts. In order to address the potential of WNV being introduced into Mexico City, we have determined the identity and spatial distribution of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes and their hybrids.
Mosquito larvae collected from 103 sites throughout Mexico City during 2004-2005 were identified as Culex, Culiseta or Ochlerotatus by morphological analysis. Within the genus Culex, specimens were further identified as Culex tarsalis or as belonging to the Culex pipiens complex. Members of the Culex pipiens complex were separated by measuring the ratio of the dorsal and ventral arms (DV/D ratio) of the male genitalia and also by using diagnostic primers designed for the Ace.2 gene. Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus was the most abundant form collected.
Important WNV vectors species, Cx. p. pipiens, Cx. p. quinquefasciatus and Cx. tarsalis, are all present in Mexico City. Hybrids of Cx. p. pipiens and Cx. p. quinquefasciatus were also collected and identified. The presence and abundance of these WNV competent vectors is a cause for concern. Understanding the distribution of these vectors can help improve viral surveillance activities and mosquito control efforts in Mexico City.
PMCID: PMC3117809  PMID: 21554725
20.  Genome-Based Microsatellite Development in the Culex pipiens Complex and Comparative Microsatellite Frequency with Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e13062.
Mosquitoes in the Culex pipiens complex are among the most medically important vectors for human disease worldwide and include major vectors for lymphatic filariasis and West Nile virus transmission. However, detailed genetic studies in the complex are limited by the number of genetic markers available. Here, we describe methods for the rapid and efficient identification and development of single locus, highly polymorphic microsatellite markers for Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes via in silico screening of the Cx. quinquefasciatus genome sequence.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Six lab colonies representing four Cx. pipiens and two Cx. quinquefasciatus populations were utilized for preliminary assessment of 38 putative loci identified within 16 Cx. quinquefasciatus supercontig assemblies (CpipJ1) containing previously mapped genetic marker sequences. We identified and validated 12 new microsatellite markers distributed across all three linkage groups that amplify consistently among strains representing the complex. We also developed four groups of 3–5 microsatellite loci each for multiplex-ready PCR. Field collections from three cities in Indiana were used to assess the multiplex groups for their application to natural populations. All were highly polymorphic (Mean  = 13.0 alleles) per locus and reflected high polymorphism information content (PIC) (Mean  = 0.701). Pairwise FST indicated population structuring between Terre Haute and Fort Wayne and between Terre Haute and Indianapolis, but not between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. In addition, we performed whole genome comparisons of microsatellite motifs and abundance between Cx. quinquefasciatus and the primary vectors for dengue virus and malaria parasites, Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae, respectively.
We demonstrate a systematic approach for isolation and validation of microsatellites for the Cx. pipiens complex by direct screen of the Cx. quinquefasciatus genome supercontig assemblies. The genome density of microsatellites is greater in Cx. quinquefasciatus (0.26%) than in Ae. aegypti (0.14%), but considerably lower than in An. gambiae (0.77%).
PMCID: PMC2948009  PMID: 20927334
21.  High Wolbachia density in insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. 
Wolbachia symbionts are responsible for various alterations in host reproduction. The effects of the host genome on endosymbiont levels have often been suggested, but rarely described. Here, we show that Wolbachia density is strongly modified by the presence of insecticide-resistant genes in the common house mosquito, Culex pipiens. The Wolbachia density was estimated using a real-time quantitative PCR assay. Strains harbouring different genes conferring resistance were more infected than a susceptible strain with the same genetic background. We show that this interaction also operates in natural populations. We propose that mosquitoes may control Wolbachia density less efficiently when they carry an insecticide-resistant gene, i.e. when they suffer from a physiological resistance cost.
PMCID: PMC1691032  PMID: 12079666
22.  Cloning and characterization of two glutathione S-transferases from pyrethroid resistant Culex pipiens 
Pest management science  2012;68(5):764-772.
The Marin strain of Culex pipiens Say is a pyrethroid-resistant population that was collected in Marin County, California, in 2001 and subsequently maintained in the laboratory under regular permethrin exposure.
In this study, two genes, CpGSTd1 and CpGSTd2, encoding glutathione S-transferase (GST) were cloned from Cx. pipiens Marin. Phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences, CpGSTD1 and CpGSTD2, of these genes indicated that they belong to the Delta class of insect GSTs. The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of CpGSTd1 and CpGSTd2 were 59% and 48% identical, respectively. CpGSTD1 and CpGSTD2 were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by affinity chromatography. The recombinant GSTs exhibited unique selectivity towards the general GST substrates CDNB and DCNB, and also differed in their sensitivity to known inhibitors of GSTs. CpGSTD1 exhibited peroxidase activity with cumene hydroperoxide, while CpGSTD2 appeared to lack this activity. CpGSTD1 was able to metabolize DDT, while DDT metabolism by CpGSTD2 was not detectable. CpGSTD1 and CpGSTD2 showed no detectable metabolism of permethrin. Gene expression of CpGSTd1 and CpGSTd2 in Marin mosquitoes was elevated by about 2-fold in comparison to that found in a pyrethroid-sensitive mosquito strain.
Our results indicated that CpGSTD1 and CpGSTD2 have unique biochemical characteristics but they did not appear to play major roles in permethrin resistance in Marin mosquitoes.
PMCID: PMC3583349  PMID: 22290868
GST; glutathione S-transferase; Culex pipiens; mosquito; insecticide
23.  Contrasting levels of variability between cytoplasmic genomes and incompatibility types in the mosquito Culex pipiens. 
Reproductive incompatibilities called cytoplasmic incompatibilities are known to affect a large number of arthropod species and are mediated by Wolbachia, a maternally transmitted microorganism. The crossing relationships between strains of potential hosts define their incompatibility types and it is generally assumed that differences between strains of Wolbachia induce different crossing types. Among all the described host species, the mosquito, Culex pipiens, displays the greatest variability of cytoplasmic incompatibility crossing types. We analysed mitochondrial and bacterial DNA variability in Culex pipiens in order to investigate some possible causes of incompatibility crossing type variability. We sequenced fragments of the ftsZ gene, and the A + T-rich control region of the mtDNA. We also sequenced the second subunit of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase (COII) gene, in Culex pipiens and a closely related species, C. torrentium, in order to verify the usefulness of the A + T-rich region for the present purposes. No variability was found in the Wolbachia ftsZ gene fragment, and very limited variation of the mitochondrial marker whatever the compatibility type or the origin of the host. A low variability was found in the A + T-rich region and comparison of divergence of the A + T-rich region and COII gene between C. pipiens and C. torrentium did not reveal any special constraints affecting this region. In contrast to observations in other host species, variability of incompatibility crossing types is not due to multiple infections by distantly related Wolbachia strains.
PMCID: PMC1688252  PMID: 9061971
24.  Multiple Insecticide Resistances in the Disease Vector Culex p. Quinquefasciatus from Western Indian Ocean  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77855.
Several mosquito-borne diseases affect the Western Indian Ocean islands. Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus is one of these vectors and transmits filariasis, Rift Valley and West Nile viruses and the Japanese encephalitis. To limit the impact of these diseases on public health, considerable vector control efforts have been implemented since the 50s, mainly through the use of neurotoxic insecticides belonging to Organochlorines (OC), Organophosphates (OP) and pyrethroids (PYR) families. However, mosquito control failures have been reported on site, and they were probably due to the selection of resistant individuals in response to insecticide exposure. In this study, we used different approaches to establish a first regional assessment of the levels and mechanisms of resistance to various insecticides. Bioassays were used to evaluate resistance to various insecticides, enzyme activity was measured to assess the presence of metabolic resistances through elevated detoxification, and molecular identification of known resistance alleles was investigated to determine the frequency of target-site mutations. These complementary approaches showed that resistance to the most used insecticides families (OC, OP and PYR) is widespread at a regional scale. However, the distribution of the different resistance genes is quite heterogeneous among the islands, some being found at high frequencies everywhere, others being frequent in some islands and absent in others. Moreover, two resistance alleles displayed clinal distributions in Mayotte and La Réunion, probably as a result of a heterogeneous selection due to local treatment practices. These widespread and diverse resistance mechanisms reduce the capacity of resistance management through classical strategies (e.g. insecticide rotation). In case of a disease outbreak, it could undermine the efforts of the vector control services, as only few compounds could be used. It thus becomes urgent to find alternatives to control populations of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus in the Indian Ocean.
PMCID: PMC3804603  PMID: 24204997
25.  Insecticide resistance in disease vectors from Mayotte: an opportunity for integrated vector management 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:299.
Mayotte, a small island in the Indian Ocean, has been affected for many years by vector-borne diseases. Malaria, Bancroftian filariasis, dengue, chikungunya and Rift Valley fever have circulated or still circulate on the island. They are all transmitted by Culicidae mosquitoes. To limit the impact of these diseases on human health, vector control has been implemented for more than 60 years on Mayotte. In this study, we assessed the resistance levels of four major vector species (Anopheles gambiae, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) to two types of insecticides: i) the locally currently-used insecticides (organophosphates, pyrethroids) and ii) alternative molecules that are promising for vector control and come from different insecticide families (bacterial toxins or insect growth regulators). When some resistance was found to one of these insecticides, we characterized the mechanisms involved.
Larval and adult bioassays were used to evaluate the level of resistance. When resistance was found, we tested for the presence of metabolic resistance through detoxifying enzyme activity assays, or for target-site mutations through molecular identification of known resistance alleles.
Resistance to currently-used insecticides varied greatly between the four vector species. While no resistance to any insecticides was found in the two Aedes species, bioassays confirmed multiple resistance in Cx. p. quinquefasciatus (temephos: ~ 20 fold and deltamethrin: only 10% mortality after 24 hours). In An. gambiae, resistance was scarce: only a moderate resistance to temephos was found (~5 fold). This resistance appears to be due only to carboxyl-esterase overexpression and not to target modification. Finally, and comfortingly, none of the four species showed resistance to any of the new insecticides.
The low resistance observed in Mayotte’s main disease vectors is particularly interesting, because it leaves a range of tools useable by vector control services. Together with the relative isolation of the island (thus limited immigration of mosquitoes), it provides us with a unique place to implement an integrated vector management plan, including all the good practices learned from previous experiences.
PMCID: PMC4094441  PMID: 24984704
Insecticide resistance; Mosquito control; Resistance management; Integrated vector management

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