Two insulin-like peptides differentially regulate malaria parasite infection in the mosquito through effects on intermediary metabolism

Jose E. Pietri, Nazzy Pakpour, Eleonora Napoli, Gyu Song, Eduardo Pietri, Rashaun Potts, Kong W. Cheung, Gregory Walker, Michael A. Riehle, Hannah Starcevich, Cecilia Giulivi, Edwin E. Lewis, Shirley Luckhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Insulin-like peptides (ILPs) play important roles in growth and metabolic homeostasis, but have also emerged as key regulators of stress responses and immunity in a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates. Furthermore, a growing literature suggests that insulin signaling- dependent metabolic provisioning can influence host responses to infection and affect infection outcomes. In line with these studies, we previously showed that knockdown of either of two closely related, infection-induced ILPs, ILP3 and ILP4, in the mosquito Anopheles stephensi decreased infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum through kinetically distinct effects on parasite death. However, the precise mechanisms by which ILP3 and ILP4 control the response to infection remained unknown. To address this knowledge gap, we used a complementary approach of direct ILP supplementation into the blood meal to further define ILP-specific effects on mosquito biology and parasite infection. Notably, we observed that feeding resulted in differential effects of ILP3 and ILP4 on blood-feeding behavior and P. falciparum development. These effects depended on ILP-specific regulation of intermediary metabolism in the mosquito midgut, suggesting a major contribution of ILP-dependent metabolic shifts to the regulation of infection resistance and parasite transmission. Accordingly, our data implicate endogenous ILP signaling in balancing intermediary metabolism for the host response to infection, affirming this emerging tenet in host-pathogen interactions with novel insights from a system of significant public health importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3487-3503
Number of pages17
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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