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Using the GAL4-UAS System for Functional Genetics in Anopheles gambiae

Published: April 15th, 2021



1Department of Vector Biology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, 2IMBB FORTH, 3Department of Biology, University of Crete

The bipartite GAL4-UAS system is a versatile tool for modification of gene expression in a controlled spatiotemporal manner which permits functional genetic analysis in Anopheles gambiae. The procedures described for using this system are a semi-standardized cloning strategy, sexing and screening of pupae for fluorescent protein markers and embryo fixation.

The bipartite GAL4-UAS system is a versatile and powerful tool for functional genetic analysis. The essence of the system is to cross transgenic 'driver' lines that express the yeast transcription factor GAL4 in a tissue specific manner, with transgenic 'responder' lines carrying a candidate gene/RNA interference construct whose expression is controlled by Upstream Activation Sequences (UAS) that bind GAL4. In the ensuing progeny, the gene or silencing construct is thus expressed in a prescribed spatiotemporal manner, enabling the resultant phenotypes to be assayed and gene function inferred. The binary system enables flexibility in experimental approaches to screen phenotypes generated by transgene expression in multiple tissue-specific patterns, even if severe fitness costs are induced. We have adapted this system for Anopheles gambiae, the principal malaria vector in Africa.

In this article, we provide some of the common procedures used during GAL4-UAS analysis. We describe the An. gambiae GAL4-UAS lines already generated, as well as the cloning of new responder constructs for upregulation and RNAi knockdown. We specify a step by step guide for sexing of mosquito pupae to establish genetic crosses, that also includes screening progeny to follow inheritance of fluorescent gene markers that tag the driver and responder insertions. We also present a protocol for clearing An. gambiae embryos to study embryonic development. Finally, we introduce potential adaptions of the method to generate driver lines through CRISPR/Cas9 insertion of GAL4 downstream of target genes.

The bipartite GAL4-UAS system is the workhorse of functional characterization of genes in the insect model organism Drosophila melanogaster1,2,3. To use the GAL4-UAS system, transgenic driver lines, expressing the yeast transcription factor GAL4 under control of a regulatory sequence, are crossed with responder lines carrying a gene of interest or RNA interference (RNAi) construct controlled by an Upstream Activation Sequence (UAS) recognized by GAL4. The progeny of this cross express the transgene of interest in a spatiotemporal pattern dictated by the promoter cont....

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1. Design and construction of UAS constructs

  1. Design and assembly of vectors for candidate gene expression
    1. Determine the sequence to be used for candidate gene upregulation.
      1. Sequence the cDNA/gDNA from the strain of interest and compare it to the published sequence to verify its identity and identify potential SNPs and restriction sites for diagnostic digest.
      2. Ensure that the forward primer used for gene amplification covers the native.......

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3xP3 expression of eYFP, dsRed and eCFP provides reliable, readily distinguishable identification of individuals possessing the marker genes producing expression in eyes and ventral ganglia of An. gambiae pupae (Figure 3). The differential morphology observed in male and female external genitalia used for sexing and an example of an unidentifiable pupae are highlighted in Figure 4. Removal of all water from pupae increases sexing.......

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Understanding mosquito gene function is vital to develop new approaches to control Anopheles and impact malaria transmission. The GAL4-UAS system described is a versatile and powerful system for functional analysis of candidate genes and to date we have used the system to examine the genetic basis of insecticide resistance17 and cuticular hydrocarbon production15,23, as well as to fluorescently tag different mosquit.......

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We gratefully acknowledge funding from LSTM and IVCC (Adriana Adolfi), BBSRC (New Investigator Award (AL), MRC (PhD studentship to BCP:MR/P016197/1), Wellcome (Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral fellowship to LG: 215894/Z/19/Z) that have incorporated Gal4UAS analysis in the proposals.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
100 x 15 mm plastic Petri dish SLS 2175546 Pack of 10
1000 µL Gilson Pipette Gilson F144059P
20/25 mL Universal Tubes Starlab E1412-3020 Pack of 400
3 mL Pasteur Pipettes SLS G612398 Greiner Pasteur pipette 3 mL sterile individually wrapped
50 mL Falcon Tubes Fisher Scientific 11512303
Absolute Ethanol Fisher Scientific BP2818-500 500 mL
Acetic Acid SLS 45726-1L-F 1 L
Cages SLS E6099 30x30x30 with screen port
Fine Paint Brushes Amazon UKDPB66 KOLAMOON 9 Pieces Detail Painting Brush Set Miniture Brushes for Watercolor, Acrylic Painting, Oil Painting (Wine Red)
Fish food Amazon Tetra Min Fish Food, Complete Food for All Tropical Fish for Health, Colour and Vitality, 10 L 
Formaldehyde Solution Sigma Aldrich F8775
Mouth Aspirator John Hock 612
Pond Salt Amazon Blagdon Guardian Pond Tonic Salt, for Fish Health, Water Quality, General Tonic, pH Buffer, 9.08 kg, treats 9,092 L 
Pupae Pots Cater4you SP8OZ 250 pots with lids
Small Plastic Buckets Amazon 2.5 L White Plastic Pail Complete with White Lid (Pack of 10) 
Sodium Hypochlorite Fisher Scientific S25552

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