The inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels play key roles in the physiology of mosquitoes and other insects. Our group, among others, previously demonstrated that small molecule inhibitors of Kir channels are promising lead molecules for developing new insecticides to control adult female mosquitoes. However, the potential use of Kir channel inhibitors as larvicidal agents is unknown. Here we tested the hypothesis that pharmacological inhibition of Kir channels in the larvae of Aedes aegypti
, the vector of several medically important arboviruses, induces lethality. We demonstrated that adding barium, a non-specific blocker of Kir channels, or VU041, a specific small-molecule inhibitor of mosquito Kir1 channels, to the rearing water (deionized H2
O) of first instar larvae killed them within 48 h. We further showed that the toxic efficacy of VU041 within 24 h was significantly enhanced by increasing the osmolality of the rearing water to 100 mOsm/kg H2
O with NaCl, KCl or mannitol; KCl provided the strongest enhancement compared to NaCl and mannitol. These data suggest: (1) the important role of Kir channels in the acclimation of larvae to elevated ambient osmolality and KCl concentrations; and (2) the disruption of osmoregulation as a potential mechanism of the toxic action of VU041. The present study provides the first evidence that inhibition of Kir channels is lethal to larval mosquitoes and broadens the potential applications of our existing arsenal of small molecule inhibitors of Kir channels, which have previously only been considered for developing adulticides.
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