Weiguo Fang, Joel Vega-Rodríguez, Anil K. Ghosh, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Angray Kang, Raymond J. St. Leger
Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 4112 Plant Sciences Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Metarhizium anisopliae infects mosquitoes through the cuticle and proliferates in the hemolymph. To allow M. anisopliae to combat malaria in mosquitoes with advanced malaria infections, we produced recombinant strains expressing molecules that target sporozoites as they travel through the hemolymph to the salivary glands. Eleven days after a Plasmodium-infected blood meal, mosquitoes were treated with M. anisopliae expressing salivary gland and midgut peptide 1 (SM1), which blocks attachment of sporozoites to salivary glands; a single-chain antibody that agglutinates sporozoites; or scorpine, which is an antimicrobial toxin. These reduced sporozoite counts by 71%, 85%, and 90%, respectively. M. anisopliae expressing scorpine and an [SM1]8:scorpine fusion protein reduced sporozoite counts by 98%, suggesting that Metarhizium-mediated inhibition of Plasmodium development could be a powerful weapon for combating malaria.