Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Developmental Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Chitosan/siRNA nanoparticle targeting demonstrates a requirement for single-minded during larval and pupal olfactory system development of the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti

Keshava Mysore12, Emily Andrews12, Ping Li12 and Molly Duman-Scheel123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend, IN 46617, United States of America

2 Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA

3 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Developmental Biology 2014, 14:9  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-14-9

Published: 19 February 2014



Essentially nothing is known about the genetic regulation of olfactory system development in vector mosquitoes, which use olfactory cues to detect blood meal hosts. Studies in Drosophila melanogaster have identified a regulatory matrix of transcription factors that controls pupal/adult odorant receptor (OR) gene expression in olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). However, it is unclear if transcription factors that function in the D. melanogaster regulatory matrix are required for OR expression in mosquitoes. Furthermore, the regulation of OR expression during development of the larval olfactory system, which is far less complex than that of pupae/adults, is not well understood in any insect, including D. melanogaster. Here, we examine the regulation of OR expression in the developing larval olfactory system of Aedes aegypti, the dengue vector mosquito.


A. aegypti bears orthologs of eight transcription factors that regulate OR expression in D. melanogaster pupae/adults. These transcription factors are expressed in A. aegypti larval antennal sensory neurons, and consensus binding sites for these transcription factors reside in the 5’ flanking regions of A. aegypti OR genes. Consensus binding sites for Single-minded (Sim) are located adjacent to over half the A. aegypti OR genes, suggesting that this transcription factor functions as a major regulator of mosquito OR expression. To functionally test this hypothesis, chitosan/siRNA nanoparticles were used to target sim during larval olfactory development. These experiments demonstrated that Sim positively regulates expression of a large subset of OR genes, including orco, the obligate co-receptor in the assembly and function of heteromeric OR/Orco complexes. Decreased innervation of the antennal lobe was also noted in sim knockdown larvae. These OR expression and antennal lobe defects correlated with a larval odorant tracking behavioral defect. OR expression and antennal lobe defects were also observed in sim knockdown pupae.


The results of this investigation indicate that Sim has multiple functions during larval and pupal olfactory system development in A. aegypti.

Aedes aegypti; Neural development; Single-minded; Odorant receptor; Olfactory receptor neuron; Targeting; siRNA; Nanoparticle; Mosquito; Olfaction