Germline excision of transgenes in Aedes aegypti by homing endonucleases
Anderson, Michelle A. E.
Myles, Kevin M.
Adelman, Zach N.
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Aedes (Ae.) aegypti is the primary vector for dengue viruses (serotypes1-4) and chikungunya virus. Homing endonucleases (HEs) are ancient selfish elements that catalyze double-stranded DNA breaks (DSB) in a highly specific manner. In this report, we show that the HEs Y2-I-AniI, I-CreI and I-SceI are all capable of catalyzing the excision of genomic segments from the Ae. aegypti genome in a heritable manner. Y2-I-AniI demonstrated the highest efficiency at two independent genomic targets, with 20-40% of Y2-I-AniI-treated individuals producing offspring that had lost the target transgene. HE-induced DSBs were found to be repaired via the single-strand annealing (SSA) and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways in a manner dependent on the availability of direct repeat sequences in the transgene. These results support the development of HE-based gene editing and gene drive strategies in Ae. aegypti, and confirm the utility of HEs in the manipulation and modification of transgenes in this important vector.