Molecular Entomology Unit
Established in 2018
Eric Calvo, Ph.D.
Earl Stadtman Investigator, NIH Distinguished Scholar
Chief, Molecular Entomology Unit
Major Areas of Research
- Role of arthropod saliva in vector-borne disease transmission
- Functional salivary transcriptomics and proteomics
- Gene-editing approaches (based on the CRISPR/Cas9 system) to characterize gene function
- Discovery of new salivary functions in blood feeding arthropods
Although the role of mosquitoes as vectors of viruses and parasites was first discovered in the late 1800s, little is known about the function of most mosquito salivary proteins and their effects on disease transmission. The overall objective of my research is to understand the mechanisms of the vector-host and vector-pathogen interactions at the biochemical and molecular level. My approach uses biological and biophysical methodologies to first identify the components of an interaction system (e.g., mosquito-arbovirus) and then to examine the mechanistic details of the interaction. A combination of bioinformatic analyses, recombinant protein production, assay development, and gene editing (based on the CRISPR/Cas9 system) are being used to accomplish this goal.
In the last decade, we have contributed to the analysis of several salivary transcriptomes from blood-feeding arthropods. This unprecedented insight into the complexity of salivary molecules indicates that their molecular diversity as well as the diversity of their targets is larger than previously suspected. The biological function of most salivary proteins and their relevance in blood feeding and pathogen transmission remain to be discovered. The exponential increase in transcriptomic and genetic data, in volume and complexity, demands novel and creative methods for functional analysis and annotation. We aim to extend the functional characterization of salivary proteins from blood feeding arthropods and their role in pathogen transmission. Ultimately, this information will be synthesized into an integrated model of the vector’s blood-feeding process and further the understanding of disease transmission and the host’s response to vector-borne diseases. The goal of this research program is to gain new insights into vector-host and vector-pathogen basic biology and, ultimately, to develop new transmission-blocking strategies for vector-borne diseases.
Ph.D., Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
B.Sc., University of Havana, Cuba
Dr. Calvo was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He received his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Havana, Cuba, and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Irvine, and at NIAID. Dr. Calvo became a staff scientist first at the FDA and then at NIAID, where he is now an Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator and NIH Distinguished Scholar. The primary aim of his research is to enrich the functional annotation of disease vectors’ salivary proteins and provide a better understanding of their biologic function and potential involvement in pathogen transmission. His goal is to develop new control strategies to reduce or eliminate vector-borne diseases. He has also served as guest editor and reviewer for several scientific journals and international funding agencies.
Smith LB, Duge E, Valenzuela-León PC, Brooks S, Martin-Martin I, Ackerman H, Calvo E. Novel salivary anti-hemostatic activities of long-form D7 proteins from the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae facilitate hematophagy. J Biol Chem. 2022 Apr 20:101971.
Martin-Martin I, Valenzuela Leon PC, Amo L, Shrivastava G, Iniguez E, Aryan A, Brooks S, Kojin BB, Williams AE, Bolland S, Ackerman H, Adelman ZN, Calvo E. Aedes aegypti sialokinin facilitates mosquito blood feeding and modulates host immunity and vascular biology. Cell Rep. 2022 Apr 12;39(2):110648.
Valenzuela-Leon PC, Shrivastava G, Martin-Martin I, Cardenas JC, Londono-Renteria B, Calvo E. Multiple Salivary Proteins from Aedes aegypti Mosquito Bind to the Zika Virus Envelope Protein. Viruses. 2022 Jan 24;14(2):221.
Martin-Martin I, Paige A, Valenzuela Leon PC, Gittis AG, Kern O, Bonilla B, Chagas AC, Ganesan S, Smith LB, Garboczi DN, Calvo E. ADP binding by the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito D7 salivary protein enhances blood feeding on mammals. Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 9;11(1):2911.
Martin-Martin I, Chagas AC, Guimaraes-Costa AB, Amo L, Oliveira F, Moore IN, DeSouza-Vieira TS, Sanchez EE, Suntravat M, Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, Calvo E. Immunity to LuloHya and Lundep, the salivary spreading factors from Lutzomyia longipalpis, protects against Leishmania major infection. PLoS Pathog. 2018 May 3;14(5):e1007006.
MEU seeks to understand the mechanisms of vector-host & vector-pathogen interactions at the biochemical & molecular levels. We use bioinformatic analyses, recombinant protein production, structural biology, assay development, & gene editing (based on CRISPR/Cas9) to discover the functions of salivary proteins in blood feeding & pathogen transmission.