Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever take a large toll on global health. The primary chemical agents used for controlling mosquitoes are insecticides that target the nervous system. However, the emergence of resistance in mosquito populations is reducing the efficacy of available insecticides. The development of new insecticides is therefore urgent. Here we show that VU573, a small-molecule inhibitor of mammalian inward-rectifying potassium (Kir) channels, inhibits a Kir channel cloned from the renal (Malpighian) tubules of Aedes aegypti (AeKir1). Injection of VU573 into the hemolymph of adult female mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) disrupts the production and excretion of urine in a manner consistent with channel block of AeKir1 and renders the mosquitoes incapacitated (flightless or dead) within 24 hours. Moreover, the toxicity of VU573 in mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) is exacerbated when hemolymph potassium levels are elevated, suggesting that Kir channels are essential for maintenance of whole-animal potassium homeostasis. Our study demonstrates that renal failure is a promising mechanism of action for killing mosquitoes, and motivates the discovery of selective small-molecule inhibitors of mosquito Kir channels for use as insecticides.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)