Heat shock genes are highly evolutionarily conserved and are expressed to varying degrees in all organisms in response to stress. Heat shock 70 (hsp70) genes have been well characterized in a number of organisms, most notably Drosophila melanogaster, but not as yet for any of the major arthropod-borne viral mosquito vectors. To identify hsp70 genes in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae), basic local alignment searches of the Ae. aegypti genome were performed using D. melanogaster Hsp70 protein sequences as query. Two clusters of six previously unannotated AaHsp70 genes were identified and found to be organized into three pairs of nearly identical open reading frames, which mapped to two genomic scaffolds. Consistent with a designation as heat shock genes, no detectable level of expression of AaHsp70 genes was observed under normal rearing conditions (28°C), with robust expression observed with a heat shock of 37–39°C. Northern analysis showed heat-inducible expression of putative AaHsp70 genes at all life stages and in all tissues tested in a time- and temperature-dependent manner. Monitoring of AaHsp70 gene expression levels in field-caught Ae. aegypti may serve as a general marker for stress. In addition, promoter sequences from AaHsp70 genes may be used to control the expression of transgenes in an inducible manner.
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