BackgroundInsect growth regulators (IGRs) can control insect vector populations by disrupting growth and development in juvenile stages of the vectors. We previously identified and described the curry tree (Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng) phytochemical leaf extract composition (neplanocin A, 3-(1-naphthyl)-L-alanine, lumiflavine, terezine C, agelaspongin and murrayazolinol), which disrupted growth and development in Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto mosquito larvae by inducing morphogenetic abnormalities, reducing locomotion and delaying pupation in the mosquito. Here, we attempted to establish the transcriptional process in the larvae that underpins these phenotypes in the mosquito.
MethodsWe first exposed third-fourth instar larvae of the mosquito to the leaf extract and consequently the inherent phytochemicals (and corresponding non-exposed controls) in two independent biological replicates. We collected the larvae for our experiments sampled 24 h before peak pupation, which was 7 and 18 days post-exposure for controls and exposed larvae, respectively. The differences in duration to peak pupation were due to extract-induced growth delay in the larvae. The two study groups (exposed vs control) were consequently not age-matched. We then sequentially (i) isolated RNA (whole larvae) from each replicate treatment, (ii) sequenced the RNA on Illumina HiSeq platform, (iii) performed differential bioinformatics analyses between libraries (exposed vs control) and (iv) independently validated the transcriptome expression profiles through RT-qPCR.
ResultsOur analyses revealed significant induction of transcripts predominantly associated with hard cuticular proteins, juvenile hormone esterases, immunity and detoxification in the larvae samples exposed to the extract relative to the non-exposed control samples. Our analysis also revealed alteration of pathways functionally associated with putrescine metabolism and structural constituents of the cuticle in the extract-exposed larvae relative to the non-exposed control, putatively linked to the exoskeleton and immune response in the larvae. The extract-exposed larvae also appeared to have suppressed pathways functionally associated with molting, cell division and growth in the larvae. However, given the age mismatch between the extract-exposed and non-exposed larvae, we can attribute the modulation of innate immune, detoxification, cuticular and associated transcripts and pathways we observed to effects of age differences among the larvae samples (exposed vs control) and to exposures of the larvae to the extract.
ConclusionsThe exposure treatment appears to disrupt cuticular development, immune response and oxidative stress pathways in Anopheles gambiae s.s larvae. These pathways can potentially be targeted in development of more efficacious curry tree phytochemical-based IGRs against An. gambiae s.s mosquito larvae.