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Barrier in Mosquito Midgut Protects Invading Pathogens

Scientists studying the Anopheles gambiae mosquito -- the main vector of malaria -- have found that when the mosquito takes a blood meal, that act triggers two enzymes to form a network of crisscrossing proteins around the ingested blood. The formation of this protein barrier, the researchers found, is part of the normal digestive process that allows so-called "healthy" or commensal gut bacteria to grow without activating mosquito immune responses.

But there is a downside: The barrier also prevents the mosquito's immune defense system from clearing any disease-causing agents that may have slipped into the blood meal, such as the Plasmodium malaria parasite, which in turn can be passed on to humans.
 
 

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