Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Game of Zinc

Targeting a protein called Hodor in insect gut holds promise for curbing malaria mosquitos

23 July 2020

Game of Zinc

Hold on don’t rush! That’s the plea behind the name of zinc-sensing protein Hodor, which regulates fruit fly developmental growth and food intake. The ability of organisms to sense nutrients is crucial in helping flies adapt to their environment. Discovered in the fly’s intestine (pictured), Hodor (stained green), only found in insects, uses zinc to transport chloride ions out of intestinal cells to maintain water balance, which is in turn essential for homeostasis. Increasing the expression of Hodor and of dietary zinc levels results in fruit flies feeding more, while decreased expression of Hodor leads to slower feeding and slower development of the flies’ larvae. This hints at the importance of zinc and other micro-nutrients in helping organisms identify nutrient-rich food sources. These findings could be useful in insect vector control through the development of ingestible drugs that target specific parasites. For example, targeted drugs might even be able to eliminate malaria-propagating mosquitoes.

Read more about this research at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences here

Written by Lauren Green

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