A systematic analysis of the early transcribed membrane protein family throughout the life cycle of Plasmodium yoelii.
ABSTRACT: The early transcribed membrane proteins (ETRAMPs) are a family of small, highly charged transmembrane proteins unique to malaria parasites. Some members of the ETRAMP family have been localized to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane that separates the intracellular parasite from the host cell and thus presumably have a role in host-parasite interactions. Although it was previously shown that two ETRAMPs are critical for rodent malaria parasite liver-stage development, the importance of most ETRAMPs during the parasite life cycle remains unknown. Here, we comprehensively identify nine new etramps in the genome of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii, and elucidate their conservation in other malaria parasites. etramp expression profiles are diverse throughout the parasite life cycle as measured by RT-PCR. Epitope tagging of two ETRAMPs demonstrates protein expression in blood and liver stages, and reveals differences in both their timing of expression and their subcellular localization. Gene targeting studies of each of the nine uncharacterized etramps show that two are refractory to deletion and thus likely essential for blood-stage replication. Seven etramps are not essential for any life cycle stage. Systematic characterization of the members of the ETRAMP family reveals the diversity in importance of each family member at the interface between host and parasite throughout the developmental cycle of the malaria parasite.
Project description:The early transcribed membrane proteins ETRAMPs belong to a family of small, transmembrane molecules unique to Plasmodium parasite, which share a signal peptide followed by a short lysine-rich stretch, a transmembrane domain and a variable, highly charged C-terminal region. ETRAMPs are usually expressed in a stage-specific manner. In the blood stages they localize to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane and, in described cases, to vesicle-like structures exported to the host erythrocyte cytosol. Two family members of the rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei, uis3 and uis4, localize to secretory organelles of sporozoites and to the parasitophorous membrane vacuole of the liver stages. By the use of specific antibodies and the generation of transgenic lines, we showed that the P. berghei ETRAMP family member SEP2 is abundantly expressed in gametocytes as well as in mosquito and liver stages. In intracellular parasite stages, SEP2 is routed to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane while, in invasive ookinete and sporozoite stages, it localizes to the parasite surface. To date SEP2 is the only ETRAMP protein detected throughout the parasite life cycle. Furthermore, SEP2 is also released during gliding motility of salivary gland sporozoites. A limited number of proteins are known to be involved in this key function and the best characterized, the CSP and TRAP, are both promising transmission-blocking candidates. Our results suggest that ETRAMP members may be viewed as new potential candidates for malaria control.
Project description:Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease caused by unicellular, obligate intracellular parasites of the genus Plasmodium. During host switch the malaria parasite employs specialized latent stages that colonize the new host environment. Previous work has established that gametocytes, sexually differentiated stages that are taken up by the mosquito vector, control expression of genes required for mosquito colonization by translational repression. Sexual parasite development is controlled by a DEAD-box RNA helicase of the DDX6 family, termed DOZI. Latency of sporozoites, the transmission stage injected during an infectious blood meal, is controlled by the eIF2alpha kinase IK2, a general inhibitor of protein synthesis. Whether RNA-binding proteins participate in translational regulation in sporozoites remains to be studied. Here, we investigated the roles of two RNA-binding proteins of the Puf-family, Plasmodium Puf1 and Puf2, during sporozoite stage conversion. Our data reveal that, in the rodent malaria parasite P. berghei, Puf2 participates in the regulation of IK2 and inhibits premature sporozoite transformation. Inside mosquito salivary glands puf2? sporozoites transform over time to round forms resembling early intra-hepatic stages. As a result, mutant parasites display strong defects in initiating a malaria infection. In contrast, Puf1 is dispensable in vivo throughout the entire Plasmodium life cycle. Our findings support the notion of a central role for Puf2 in parasite latency during switch between the insect and mammalian hosts.
Project description:The majority of malaria infections in low transmission settings remain undetectable by conventional diagnostics. A powerful model to identify antibody responses that allow accurate detection of recent exposure to low-density infections is controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies in which healthy volunteers are infected with the Plasmodium parasite. We aimed to evaluate antibody responses in malaria-naïve volunteers exposed to a single CHMI using a custom-made protein microarray. All participants developed a blood-stage infection with peak parasite densities up to 100 parasites/?l in the majority of participants (50/54), while the remaining four participants had peak densities between 100 and 200 parasites/?l. There was a strong correlation between parasite density and antibody responses associated with the most reactive blood-stage targets 1 month after CHMI (Etramp 5, GLURP-R2, MSP4 and MSP1-19; Spearman's ? = 0.82, p < 0.001). Most volunteers developed antibodies against a potential marker of recent exposure: Etramp 5 (37/45, 82%). Our findings justify validation in endemic populations to define a minimum set of antigens needed to detect exposure to natural low-density infections.
Project description:To facilitate pre-eythrocytic malaria vaccine and drug target identification, a comprehensive transcriptome analysis of the parasites liver stages (LS) was undertaken. Green fluorescent protein-tagged Plasmodium yoelii (PyGFP) was used to isolate LS-infected hepatocytes from the rodent host. Genome-wide LS gene expression was profiled and compared to other parasite life cycle stages. The analysis reveals ~2000 genes active during LS development. Keywords: Stage comparison, time course Overall design: 1. The study profiled gene expressions in samples from 7 stages of malaria parasite P. yoelii life cycle: a. ooSpz: Sporozoites from infected A. stephensi mosquitoes midguts (harvested 10 days after mosquito feeding) b. sgSpz: Sporozoites infected A. stephensi mosquitoes salivary glands (harvested 15 days after mosquito feeding) c. LS24: Isolated liver stage infected hepatocytes 24 hrs after in vivo infection d. LS40: Isolated liver stage infected hepatocytes 40 hrs after in vivo infection e. LS50: Isolated liver stage infected hepatocytes 50 hrs after in vivo infection f. Schz: Purified erythrocytic schizonts g. BS: mixed erythrocytic stages when parasitemia was at 5-10% 2. Samples from Liver stage parasites and Sporozoites were mainly compared to samples from mixed erythrocytic and/or schizont stage parasites with various technical replicates, including dye swaps in some comparisons.
Project description:Intracellular malaria parasites require lipids for growth and replication. They possess a prokaryotic type II fatty acid synthesis (FAS II) pathway that localizes to the apicoplast plastid organelle and is assumed to be necessary for pathogenic blood stage replication. However, the importance of FAS II throughout the complex parasite life cycle remains unknown. We show in a rodent malaria model that FAS II enzymes localize to the sporozoite and liver stage apicoplast. Targeted deletion of FabB/F, a critical enzyme in fatty acid synthesis, did not affect parasite blood stage replication, mosquito stage development and initial infection in the liver. This was confirmed by knockout of FabZ, another critical FAS II enzyme. However, FAS II-deficient Plasmodium yoelii liver stages failed to form exo-erythrocytic merozoites, the invasive stage that first initiates blood stage infection. Furthermore, deletion of FabI in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum did not show a reduction in asexual blood stage replication in vitro. Malaria parasites therefore depend on the intrinsic FAS II pathway only at one specific life cycle transition point, from liver to blood.
Project description:Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) play key regulatory roles in the life cycle of the malaria parasite, but in many cases their precise molecular functions are unknown. Using the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei, we show that CDPK1, which is known to be essential in the asexual blood stage of the parasite, is expressed in all life stages and is indispensable during the sexual mosquito life-cycle stages. Knockdown of CDPK1 in sexual stages resulted in developmentally arrested parasites and prevented mosquito transmission, and these effects were independent of the previously proposed function for CDPK1 in regulating parasite motility. In-depth translational and transcriptional profiling of arrested parasites revealed that CDPK1 translationally activates mRNA species in the developing zygote that in macrogametes remain repressed via their 3' and 5'UTRs. These findings indicate that CDPK1 is a multifunctional protein that translationally regulates mRNAs to ensure timely and stage-specific protein expression.
Project description:Thrombospondin type I repeat (TSR) domains are commonly O-fucosylated by protein O-fucosyltransferase 2 (PoFUT2), and this modification is required for optimal folding and secretion of TSR-containing proteins. The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum expresses proteins containing TSR domains, such as the thrombospondin-related anonymous protein (TRAP) and circumsporozoite surface protein (CSP), which are O-fucosylated. TRAP and CSP are present on the surface of sporozoites and play essential roles in mosquito and human host invasion processes during the transmission stages. Here, we have generated PoFUT2 null-mutant P. falciparum and Plasmodium berghei (rodent) malaria parasites and, by phenotyping them throughout their complete life cycle, we show that PoFUT2 disruption does not affect the growth through the mosquito stages for both species. However, contrary to what has been described previously by others, P. berghei PoFUT2 null mutant sporozoites showed no deleterious motility phenotypes and successfully established blood stage infection in mice. This unexpected result indicates that the importance of O-fucosylation of TSR domains may differ between human and RODENT malaria parasites; complicating our understanding of glycosylation modifications in malaria biology.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Despite the development of malaria control programs, billions of people are still at risk for this infectious disease. Recently, the idea of the transmission-blocking vaccine, which works by interrupting the infection of mosquitoes by parasites, has gained attention as a promising strategy for malaria control and eradication. To date, a limited number of surface proteins have been identified in mosquito-stage parasites and investigated as potential targets for transmission-blocking vaccines. Therefore, for the development of effective transmission-blocking strategies in epidemic areas, it is necessary to identify novel zygote/ookinete surface proteins as candidate antigens. METHODS: Since the expression of many zygote/ookinete proteins is regulated post-transcriptionally, proteins that are regulated by well-known translational mediators were focused. Through in silico screening, CPW-WPC family proteins were selected as potential zygote/ookinete surface proteins. All experiments were performed in the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium yoelii XNL. mRNA and protein expression profiles were examined by RT-PCR and western blotting, respectively, over the course of the life cycle of the malaria parasite. Protein function was also investigated by the generation of gene-disrupted transgenic parasites. RESULTS: The CPW-WPC protein family, named after the unique WxC repeat domains, is highly conserved among Plasmodium species. It is revealed that CPW-WPC mRNA transcripts are transcribed in gametocytes, while CPW-WPC proteins are expressed in zygote/ookinete-stage parasites. Localization analysis reveals that one of the CPW-WPC family members, designated as PyCPW-WPC-1, is a novel zygote/ookinete stage-specific surface protein. Targeted disruption of the pycpw-wpc-1 gene caused no obvious defects during ookinete and oocyst formation, suggesting that PyCPW-WPC-1 is not essential for mosquito-stage parasite development. CONCLUSIONS: It is demonstrated that PyCPW-WPC-1 can be classified as a novel, post-transcriptionally regulated zygote/ookinete surface protein. Additional studies are required to determine whether all CPW-WPC family members are also present on the ookinete surface and share similar biological roles during mosquito-stage parasite development. Further investigations of CPW-WPC family proteins may facilitate understanding of parasite biology in the mosquito stage and development of transmission-blocking vaccines.
Project description:Intracellular pathogens have devised mechanisms to exploit their host cells to ensure their survival and replication. The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on an exchange of metabolites with the host for proliferation. Here we describe a mass spectrometry-based metabolomic analysis of the parasite throughout its 48 hr intraerythrocytic developmental cycle. Our results reveal a general modulation of metabolite levels by the parasite, with numerous metabolites varying in phase with the developmental cycle. Others differed from uninfected cells irrespective of the developmental stage. Among these was extracellular arginine, which was specifically converted to ornithine by the parasite. To identify the biochemical basis for this effect, we disrupted the plasmodium arginase gene in the rodent malaria model P. berghei. These parasites were viable but did not convert arginine to ornithine. Our results suggest that systemic arginine depletion by the parasite may be a factor in human malarial hypoargininemia associated with cerebral malaria pathogenesis.
Project description:The ribosomal small subunit locus has been used for transgene expression in the rodent malaria parasites, Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium yoelii, but this strategy utilizes single crossover integration and is thus prone to reversion by plasmid excision. Targeting of the ribosomal subunit locus may also have a negative effect on oocyst development in the mosquito. In P. berghei, the p230 paralog locus has been used for transgene expression. Here, we show that the P. yoelii S1 locus (sporozoite expressed gene 1) (PY05712) is dispensable and can be used for stable transgene expression throughout the parasite life cycle. P. yoelii s1(-) parasites show no defect in blood stage replication, oocyst formation, sporozoite production, or liver stage development when compared to P. yoelii wildtype parasites. Further, we show that a fluorescent transgene can be stably expressed from this site. This demonstrates that the S1 locus can be utilized for stable expression of heterologous genes in rodent malaria parasites.