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Improved transgenic sexing strains for genetic control of the Australian sheep blow fly Lucilia cuprina using embryo-specific gene promoters

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Because in genetic approaches for controlling insect pests, such as the sterile insect technique (SIT), it is advantageous to release only males due to females being ineffective as control agents while consuming about 50 percent of the diet, this article reports the development of tetracycline-repressible Lucilia cuprina transgenic strains in which adult females were fully fertile and viable on a diet that lacked tetracycline and all of their female offspring died at the embryo stage. 


The transgenic strains are an improvement over the strains the authors developed previously, which had the disadvantage that adult females on diet without tetracycline were sterile and died prematurely. This was possibly due to the low-level expression of the effector gene in ovaries. In the strains developed in this study, the early promoters from L. cuprina nullo or Cochliomyia macellaria CG14427 genes were used to drive the tetracycline transactivator (tTA) expression in the early embryo. In the absence of tetracycline, tTA activates expression of the proapoptotic gene Lshid which contains a female-specific intron. Consequently, only females produce active HID protein and die at the embryo stage. Crossing the tTA-expressing driver lines with an RFPex reporter line confirmed that there was no expression of the effector gene in the ovary. These new embryonic L. cuprina transgenic sexing strains hold great promise for genetic control programs, and the system reported here might also be transferable to other major calliphorid livestock pests such as the New World screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019