Female inheritance of malarial lap genes is essential for mosquito transmission.
ABSTRACT: Members of the LCCL/lectin adhesive-like protein (LAP) family, a family of six putative secreted proteins with predicted adhesive extracellular domains, have all been detected in the sexual and sporogonic stages of Plasmodium and have previously been predicted to play a role in parasite-mosquito interactions and/or immunomodulation. In this study we have investigated the function of PbLAP1, 2, 4, and 6. Through phenotypic analysis of Plasmodium berghei loss-of-function mutants, we have demonstrated that PbLAP2, 4, and 6, as previously shown for PbLAP1, are critical for oocyst maturation and sporozoite formation, and essential for transmission from mosquitoes to mice. Sporozoite formation was rescued by a genetic cross with wild-type parasites, which results in the production of heterokaryotic polyploid ookinetes and oocysts, and ultimately infective Deltapblap sporozoites, but not if the individual Deltapblap parasite lines were crossed amongst each other. Genetic crosses with female-deficient (Deltapbs47) and male-deficient (Deltapbs48/45) parasites show that the lethal phenotype is only rescued when the wild-type pblap gene is inherited from a female gametocyte, thus explaining the failure to rescue in the crosses between different Deltapblap parasite lines. We conclude that the functions of PbLAPs1, 2, 4, and 6 are critical prior to the expression of the male-derived gene after microgametogenesis, fertilization, and meiosis, possibly in the gametocyte-to-ookinete period of differentiation. The phenotypes detectable by cytological methods in the oocyst some 10 d after the critical period of activity suggests key roles of the LAPs or LAP-dependent processes in the regulation of the cell cycle, possibly in the regulation of cytoplasm-to-nuclear ratio, and, importantly, in the events of cytokinesis at sporozoite formation. This phenotype is not seen in the other dividing forms of the mutant parasite lines in the liver and blood stages.
Project description:To determine the role of ALBA4 in mRNA homeostasis in Plasmodium parasites, we performed comparative total RNA-seq between a WT-GFP line and an alba4-null line. We performed these experiments at three points in the life cycle - asexual (schizont), sexual (gametocyte), and oocyst sporozoite stages. We found that ALBA4 has a multi-faceted role in mRNA homeostasis, and is involved in mRNA fate determination. ALBA4 appears to act in a stage-specific manner, affecting different sets of transcripts in each stage. Our data suggests that ALBA4 plays opposing roles - possibly promoting degradation in schizonts, while promoting mRNA protection in gametocytes. In oocyst sporozoites, it appears that ALBA4 has a mixed role, and may be involved in both degradation and protection of mRNAs. Overall design: Schizonts or gametocytes were collected from mice infected with either a WT-GFP (control) or alba4-null parasite line, and purified by gentle centrifugation over a discontinuous gradient. Oocyst sporozoites were dissected from mosquitoes infected with either WT-GFP or alba4-null parasite lines, and purified twice by centrifugation over a discontinuous gradient. Following purification, RNA was extracted and purified and sequenced on a Illumina HiSeq 2500 in Rapid Run mode. For schizont and oocyst sporozoite samples, 100nt x 100nt paired-end sequencing was performed, and for gametocyte samples 100 nt single read sequencing was performed. Three biological replicates were performed for schizont and gametocyte stages, while two were performed for oocyst sporozoites.
Project description:The relationship between Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte density and infections in mosquitoes is central to understanding the rates of transmission with important implications for control. Here, we determined whether field relevant variation in environmental temperature could also modulate this relationship. Anopheles stephensi were challenged with three densities of P. falciparum gametocytes spanning a ~10-fold gradient, and housed under diurnal/daily temperature range ("DTR") of 9°C (+5°C and -4°C) around means of 20, 24, and 28°C. Vector competence was quantified as the proportion of mosquitoes infected with oocysts in the midguts (oocyst rates) or infectious with sporozoites in the salivary glands (sporozoite rates) at peak periods of infection for each temperature to account for the differences in development rates. In addition, oocyst intensities were also recorded from infected midguts and the overall study replicated across three separate parasite cultures and mosquito cohorts. While vector competence was similar at 20 DTR 9°C and 24 DTR 9°C, oocyst and sporozoite rates were also comparable, with evidence, surprisingly, for higher vector competence in mosquitoes challenged with intermediate gametocyte densities. For the same gametocyte densities however, severe reductions in the sporozoite rates was accompanied by a significant decline in overall vector competence at 28 DTR 9°C, with gametocyte density per se showing a positive and linear effect at this temperature. Unlike vector competence, oocyst intensities decreased with increasing temperatures with a predominantly positive and linear association with gametocyte density, especially at 28 DTR 9°C. Oocyst intensities across individual infected midguts suggested temperature-specific differences in mosquito susceptibility/resistance: at 20 DTR 9°C and 24 DTR 9°C, dispersion (aggregation) increased in a density-dependent manner but not at 28 DTR 9°C where the distributions were consistently random. Limitations notwithstanding, our results suggest that variation in temperature could modify seasonal dynamics of infectious reservoirs with implications for the design and deployment of transmission-blocking vaccines/drugs.
Project description:Passage of malaria parasites through mosquitoes involves multiple developmental transitions, from gametocytes that are ingested with the blood meal, through to sporozoites that are transmitted by insect bite to the host. During the transformation from gametocyte to oocyst, the parasite forms a unique transient organelle named the crystalloid, which is involved in sporozoite formation. In Plasmodium berghei, a complex of six LCCL domain-containing proteins (LAPs) reside in the crystalloid and are required for its biogenesis. However, little else is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlie the crystalloid's role in sporogony. In this study, we have used transgenic parasites stably expressing LAP3 fused to GFP, combined with GFP affinity pulldown and high accuracy mass spectrometry, to identify an extended LAP interactome of some fifty proteins. We show that many of these are targeted to the crystalloid, including members of two protein families with CPW-WPC and pleckstrin homology-like domains, respectively. Our findings indicate that the LAPs are part of an intricate protein complex, the formation of which facilitates both crystalloid targeting and biogenesis. SIGNIFICANCE: Reducing malaria parasite transmission by mosquitoes is a key component of malaria eradication and control strategies. This study sheds important new light on the molecular composition of the crystalloid, an enigmatic parasite organelle that is essential for sporozoite formation and transmission from the insect to the vertebrate host. Our findings provide new mechanistic insight into how proteins are delivered to the crystalloid, and indicate that the molecular mechanisms that underlie crystalloid function are complex, involving several protein families unique to Plasmodium and closely related organisms. The new crystalloid proteins identified will form a useful starting point for studies aimed at unravelling how the crystalloid organelle facilitates sporogony and transmission.
Project description:Cell-cycle progression and cell division in eukaryotes are governed in part by the cyclin family and their regulation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Cyclins are very well characterised in model systems such as yeast and human cells, but surprisingly little is known about their number and role in Plasmodium, the unicellular protozoan parasite that causes malaria. Malaria parasite cell division and proliferation differs from that of many eukaryotes. During its life cycle it undergoes two types of mitosis: endomitosis in asexual stages and an extremely rapid mitotic process during male gametogenesis. Both schizogony (producing merozoites) in host liver and red blood cells, and sporogony (producing sporozoites) in the mosquito vector, are endomitotic with repeated nuclear replication, without chromosome condensation, before cell division. The role of specific cyclins during Plasmodium cell proliferation was unknown. We show here that the Plasmodium genome contains only three cyclin genes, representing an unusual repertoire of cyclin classes. Expression and reverse genetic analyses of the single Plant (P)-type cyclin, CYC3, in the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei, revealed a cytoplasmic and nuclear location of the GFP-tagged protein throughout the lifecycle. Deletion of cyc3 resulted in defects in size, number and growth of oocysts, with abnormalities in budding and sporozoite formation. Furthermore, global transcript analysis of the cyc3-deleted and wild type parasites at gametocyte and ookinete stages identified differentially expressed genes required for signalling, invasion and oocyst development. Collectively these data suggest that cyc3 modulates oocyst endomitotic development in Plasmodium berghei.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Azithromycin (AZM) is a macrolide antibiotic that displays an excellent safety profile even in children and pregnant women and has been shown to have anti-malarial activity against blood stage Plasmodium falciparum. This study evaluated the transmission-blocking effect of AZM using a rodent malaria model. METHODS: AZM-treated mice infected with Plasmodium berghei were exposed to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, followed by the observation of parasite development at different phases in the mosquito, i.e., ookinetes in the midgut, oocysts on the midgut, and sporozoites in the midgut and salivary glands. Furthermore, to evaluate the effect on organelle replication of each stage, quantitative real-time PCR analysis was performed. RESULTS: The inhibitory effect of AZM was noticeable in both gametocyte-ookinete transformation in the midgut and sporozoite production in the oocyst, while the latter was most remarkable among all the developmental phases examined. Real-time PCR analysis revealed that AZM suppressed apicoplast replication at the period of sporozoite production in oocysts. CONCLUSIONS: AZM inhibits parasite development in the mosquito stage, probably through the same mechanism as in the liver and blood stages. Such a multi-targeting anti-malarial, along with its safety, would be ideal for mass drug administration in malaria control programmes.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum infections in malaria endemic areas often harbor multiple clones of parasites. However, the transmission success of the different genotypes within the mosquito vector has remained elusive so far. The genetic diversity of malaria parasites was measured by using microsatellite markers in gametocyte isolates from 125 asymptomatic carriers. For a subset of 49 carriers, the dynamics of co-infecting genotypes was followed until their development within salivary glands. Also, individual oocysts from midguts infected with blood from 9 donors were genotyped to assess mating patterns. Multiplicity of infection (MOI) was high both in gametocyte isolates and sporozoite populations, reaching up to 10 genotypes. Gametocyte isolates with multiple genotypes gave rise to lower infection prevalence and intensity. Fluctuations of genotype number occurred during the development within the mosquito and sub-patent genotypes, not detected in gametocyte isolates, were identified in the vector salivary glands. The inbreeding coefficient Fis was positively correlated to the oocyst loads, suggesting that P. falciparum parasites use different reproductive strategies according to the genotypes present in the gametocyte isolate. The number of parasite clones within an infection affects the transmission success and the mosquito has an important role in maintaining P. falciparum genetic diversity. Our results emphasize the crucial importance of discriminating between the different genotypes within an infection when studying the A. gambiae natural resistance to P. falciparum, and the need to monitor parasite diversity in areas where malaria control interventions are implemented.
Project description:Successful sporogony of Plasmodium berghei in vector mosquitoes requires expression of a family of six modular proteins named LCCL lectin domain adhesive-like proteins (LAPs). The LAPs share a subcellular localization in the crystalloid, a unique parasite organelle that forms during ookinete development. Here, LAP interactions in P. berghei were studied using a series of parasite lines stably expressing reporter-tagged LAPs combined with affinity purification and high accuracy label free quantitative mass spectrometry. Our results show that abundant complexes containing LAP1, LAP2 and LAP3 are formed in gametocytes through high avidity interactions. Following fertilization, LAP4, LAP5 and LAP6 are recruited to this complex, a process that is facilitated by LAP1 chiefly through its scavenger receptor cysteine-rich modules. These collective findings provide new insight into the temporal and molecular dynamics of protein complex formation that lead up to, and are required for, crystalloid biogenesis and downstream sporozoite transmission of malaria parasites.
Project description:The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) is the major surface protein of the sporozoite stage of malaria parasites and has multiple functions as the parasite develops and then migrates from the mosquito midgut to the mammalian liver. The overall structure of CSP is conserved among Plasmodium species, consisting of a species-specific central tandem repeat region flanked by two conserved domains: the NH2-terminus and the thrombospondin repeat (TSR) at the COOH-terminus. Although the central repeat region is an immunodominant B-cell epitope and the basis of the only candidate malaria vaccine in Phase III clinical trials, little is known about its functional role(s). We used the rodent malaria model Plasmodium berghei to investigate the role of the CSP tandem repeat region during sporozoite development. Here we describe two mutant parasite lines, one lacking the tandem repeat region (?Rep) and the other lacking the NH2-terminus as well as the repeat region (?N?Rep). We show that in both mutant lines oocyst formation is unaffected but sporozoite development is defective.
Project description:One unique feature of malaria parasites is the differential transcription of structurally distinct rRNA (rRNA) genes at different developmental stages: the A-type genes are transcribed mainly in asexual stages, whereas the S-type genes are expressed mostly in sexual or mosquito stages. Conclusive functional evidence of different rRNAs in regulating stage-specific parasite development, however, is still absent. Here we performed genetic crosses of Plasmodium yoelii parasites with one parent having an oocyst development defect (ODD) phenotype and another producing normal oocysts to identify the gene(s) contributing to the ODD. The parent with ODD--characterized as having small oocysts and lacking infective sporozoites--was obtained after introduction of a plasmid with a green fluorescent protein gene into the parasite genome and subsequent passages in mice. Quantitative trait locus analysis of genome-wide microsatellite genotypes of 48 progeny from the crosses linked an ~200-kb segment on chromosome 6 containing one of the S-type genes (D-type small subunit rRNA gene [D-ssu]) to the ODD. Fine mapping of the plasmid integration site, gene expression pattern, and gene knockout experiments demonstrated that disruption of the D-ssu gene caused the ODD phenotype. Interestingly, introduction of the D-ssu gene into the same parasite strain (self), but not into a different subspecies, significantly affected or completely ablated oocyst development, suggesting a stage- and subspecies (strain)-specific regulation of oocyst development by D-ssu. This study demonstrates that P. yoelii D-ssu is essential for normal oocyst and sporozoite development and that variation in the D-ssu sequence can have dramatic effects on parasite development.Malaria parasites are the only known organisms that express structurally distinct rRNA genes at different developmental stages. The differential expression of these genes suggests that they play unique roles during the complex life cycle of the parasites. Conclusive functional proof of different rRNAs in regulating parasite development, however, is still absent or controversial. Here we functionally demonstrate for the first time that a stage-specifically expressed D-type small-subunit rRNA gene (D-ssu) is essential for oocyst development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii in the mosquito. This study also shows that variations in D-ssu sequence and/or the timing of transcription may have profound effects on parasite oocyst development. The results show that in addition to protein translation, rRNAs of malaria parasites also regulate parasite development and differentiation in a strain-specific manner, which can be explored for controlling parasite transmission.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent human malaria parasite, undergoes asexual reproduction within the human host, but reproduces sexually within its vector host, the Anopheles mosquito. Consequently, the mosquito stage of the parasite life cycle provides an opportunity to create genetically novel parasites in multiply-infected mosquitoes, potentially increasing parasite population diversity. Despite the important implications for disease transmission and malaria control, a quantitative mapping of how parasite diversity entering a mosquito relates to diversity of the parasite exiting, has not been undertaken. To examine the role that vector biology plays in modulating parasite diversity, we develop a two-part model framework that estimates the diversity as a consequence of different bottlenecks and expansion events occurring during the vector-stage of the parasite life cycle. For the underlying framework, we develop the first stochastic model of within-vector P. falciparum parasite dynamics and go on to simulate the dynamics of two parasite subpopulations, emulating multiply infected mosquitoes. We show that incorporating stochasticity is essential to capture the extensive variation in parasite dynamics, particularly in the presence of multiple parasites. In particular, unlike deterministic models, which always predict the most fit parasites to produce the most sporozoites, we find that occasionally only parasites with lower fitness survive to the sporozoite stage. This has important implications for onward transmission. The second part of our framework includes a model of sequence diversity generation resulting from recombination and reassortment between parasites within a mosquito. Our two-part model framework shows that bottlenecks entering the oocyst stage decrease parasite diversity from what is present in the initial gametocyte population in a mosquito's blood meal. However, diversity increases with the possibility for recombination and proliferation in the formation of sporozoites. Furthermore, when we begin with two parasite subpopulations in the initial gametocyte population, the probability of transmitting more than two unique parasites from mosquito to human is over 50% for a wide range of initial gametocyte densities.