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Inverse Medea as a Novel Gene Drive System for Local Population Replacement: A Theoretical Analysis

By John M. Marshall and Bruce A. Hay


One strategy to control mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, on a regional scale is to use gene drive systems to spread disease-refractory genes into wild mosquito populations. The development of a synthetic Medea element that has been shown to drive population replacement in laboratory Drosophila populations has provided encouragement for this strategy but has also been greeted with caution over the concern that transgenes may spread into countries without their consent. Here, we propose a novel gene drive system, inverse Medea, which is strong enough to bring about local population replacement but is unable to establish itself beyond an isolated release site. The system consists of 2 genetic components—a zygotic toxin and maternal antidote—which render heterozygous offspring of wild-type mothers unviable. Through population genetic analysis, we show that inverse Medea will only spread when it represents a majority of the alleles in a population. The element is best located on an autosome and will spread to fixation provided any associated fitness costs are dominant and to very high frequency otherwise. We suggest molecular tools that could be used to build the inverse Medea system and discuss its utility for a confined release of transgenic mosquitoes

Topics: Brief Communications
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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    1. 14, 2010; Revised February 10, 2011; Accepted
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