The AalNix3&4 isoform is required and sufficient to convert Aedes albopictus females into males.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1010280
Aedes albopictus is one of the most invasive insect species in the world and an effective vector for many important arboviruses. We reported previously that Ae. albopictus Nix (AalNix) is the male-determining factor of this species. However, whether AalNix alone is sufficient to initiate male development is unknown. Transgenic lines that express each of the three AalNix isoforms from the native promoter were obtained using piggyBac transformation. We verified the stable expression of AalNix isoforms in the transgenic lines and confirm that one isoform, AalNix3&4, is sufficient to convert females into fertile males (pseudo-males) that are indistinguishable from wild-type males. We also established a stable sex-converted female mosquito strain, AalNix3&4-♂4-pseudo-male. The pseudo-male mosquitoes can fly and mate normally with wild-type female, although their mating competitiveness is lower than wild-type. This work further clarifies the role of AalNix in the sex determination pathway and will facilitate the development of Ae. albopictus control strategies that rely on male-only releases such as SIT and sex-ratio distortion.