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Cas9-mediated maternal effect and derived resistance alleles in a gene-drive strain of the African malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles gambiae


CRISPR/Cas9 technologies are important tools for the development of gene-drive systems to modify mosquito vector populations to control the transmission of pathogens that cause diseases such as malaria. However, one of the challenges for current Cas9-based drive systems is their ability to produce drive-resistant alleles resulting from insertions and deletions (indels) caused principally by nonhomologous end-joining following chromosome cleavage. Rapid increases in the frequency of such alleles may impair gene-drive dynamics. We explored the generation of indels in the germline and somatic cells in female gene-drive lineages using a series of selective crosses between a gene-drive line, AgNosCd-1, and wild-type mosquitoes. We find that potential drive-resistant mutant alleles are generated largely during embryonic development, most likely caused by deposition of the Cas9 endonuclease and guide RNAs in oocytes and resulting embryos by homozygous and hemizygous gene-drive mothers.

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