Despite its function in sex determination and its role in driving genome evolution, the Y chromosome remains poorly understood in most species. Y chromosomes are gene-poor, repeat-rich and largely heterochromatic and therefore represent a difficult target for genetic engineering. The Y chromosome of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae appears to be involved in sex determination although very little is known about both its structure and function. Here, we characterize a transgenic strain of this mosquito species, obtained by transposon-mediated integration of a transgene construct onto the Y chromosome. Using meganuclease-induced homologous repair we introduce a site-specific recombination signal onto the Y chromosome and show that the resulting docking line can be used for secondary integration. To demonstrate its utility, we study the activity of a germ-line-specific promoter when located on the Y chromosome. We also show that Y-linked fluorescent transgenes allow automated sex separation of this important vector species, providing the means to generate large single-sex populations. Our findings will aid studies of sex chromosome function and enable the development of male-exclusive genetic traits for vector control.
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America