Multiple pathways for Plasmodium ookinete invasion of the mosquito midgut.
ABSTRACT: Plasmodium ookinete invasion of the mosquito midgut is a crucial step of the parasite life cycle but little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved. Previously, a phage display peptide library screen identified SM1, a peptide that binds to the mosquito midgut epithelium and inhibits ookinete invasion. SM1 was characterized as a mimotope of an ookinete surface enolase and SM1 presumably competes with enolase, the presumed ligand, for binding to a putative midgut receptor. Here we identify a mosquito midgut receptor that binds both SM1 and ookinete surface enolase, termed "enolase-binding protein" (EBP). Moreover, we determined that Plasmodium berghei parasites are heterogeneous for midgut invasion, as some parasite clones are strongly inhibited by SM1 whereas others are not. The SM1-sensitive parasites required the mosquito EBP receptor for midgut invasion whereas the SM1-resistant parasites invaded the mosquito midgut independently of EBP. These experiments provide evidence that Plasmodium ookinetes can invade the mosquito midgut by alternate pathways. Furthermore, another peptide from the original phage display screen, midgut peptide 2 (MP2), strongly inhibited midgut invasion by P. berghei (SM1-sensitive and SM1-resistant) and Plasmodium falciparum ookinetes, suggesting that MP2 binds to a separate, universal receptor for midgut invasion.
Project description:Ookinete invasion of the mosquito midgut is an essential step for the development of the malaria parasite in the mosquito. Invasion involves recognition between a presumed mosquito midgut receptor and an ookinete ligand. Here, we show that enolase lines the ookinete surface. An antienolase antibody inhibits oocyst development of both Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum, suggesting that enolase may act as an invasion ligand. Importantly, we demonstrate that surface enolase captures plasminogen from the mammalian blood meal via its lysine motif (DKSLVK) and that this interaction is essential for midgut invasion, because plasminogen depletion leads to a strong inhibition of oocyst formation. Although addition of recombinant WT plasminogen to depleted serum rescues oocyst formation, recombinant inactive plasminogen does not, thus emphasizing the importance of plasmin proteolytic activity for ookinete invasion. The results support the hypothesis that enolase on the surface of Plasmodium ookinetes plays a dual role in midgut invasion: by acting as a ligand that interacts with the midgut epithelium and, further, by capturing plasminogen, whose conversion to active plasmin promotes the invasion process.
Project description:Malaria parasites must undergo development within mosquitoes to be transmitted to a new host. Antivector transmission-blocking vaccines inhibit parasite development by preventing ookinete interaction with mosquito midgut ligands. Therefore, the discovery of novel midgut antigen targets is paramount. Jacalin (a lectin) inhibits ookinete attachment by masking glycan ligands on midgut epithelial surface glycoproteins. However, the identities of these midgut glycoproteins have remained unknown. Here we report on the molecular characterization of an Anopheles gambiae aminopeptidase N (AgAPN1) as the predominant jacalin target on the mosquito midgut luminal surface and provide evidence for its role in ookinete invasion. alpha-AgAPN1 IgG strongly inhibited both Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum development in different mosquito species, implying that AgAPN1 has a conserved role in ookinete invasion of the midgut. Molecules targeting single midgut antigens seldom achieve complete abrogation of parasite development. However, the combined blocking activity of alpha-AgAPN1 IgG and an unrelated inhibitory peptide, SM1, against P. berghei was incomplete. We also found that SM1 can block only P. berghei, whereas alpha-AgAPN1 IgG can block both parasite species significantly. Therefore, we hypothesize that ookinetes can evade inhibition by two potent transmission-blocking molecules, presumably through the use of other ligands, and that this process further partitions murine from human parasite midgut invasion models. These results advance our understanding of malaria parasite-mosquito host interactions and guide in the design of transmission-blocking vaccines.
Project description:Mosquito midgut stages of the malaria parasite present an attractive biological system to study host-parasite interactions and develop interventions to block disease transmission. Mosquito infection ensues upon oocyst development that follows ookinete invasion and traversal of the mosquito midgut epithelium. Here, we report the characterization of PIMMS2 (Plasmodium invasion of mosquito midgut screen candidate 2), a Plasmodium berghei protein with structural similarities to subtilisin-like proteins. PIMMS2 orthologs are present in the genomes of all plasmodia and are mapped between the subtilisin-encoding genes SUB1 and SUB3 P. berghei PIMMS2 is specifically expressed in zygotes and ookinetes and is localized on the ookinete surface. Loss of PIMMS2 function through gene disruption by homologous recombination leads to normal development of motile ookinetes that exhibit a severely impaired capacity to traverse the mosquito midgut and transform to oocysts. Genetic complementation of the disrupted locus with a mutated PIMMS2 allele reveals that amino acid residues corresponding to the putative subtilisin-like catalytic triad are important but not essential for protein function. Our data demonstrate that PIMMS2 is a novel ookinete-specific protein that promotes parasite traversal of the mosquito midgut epithelium and establishment of mosquito infection.
Project description:Pore forming proteins such as those belonging to the membrane attack/perforin (MACPF) family have important functions in many organisms. Of the five MACPF proteins found in Plasmodium parasites, three have functions in cell passage and one in host cell egress. Here we report an analysis of the perforin-like protein 4, PPLP4, in the rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei. We found that the protein is expressed only in the ookinete, the invasive stage of the parasite formed in the mosquito midgut. Transcriptional analysis revealed that expression of the pplp4 gene commences during ookinete development. The protein was detected in retorts and mature ookinetes. Using two antibodies, the protein was found localized in a dotted pattern, and 3-D SIM super-resolution microcopy revealed the protein in the periphery of the cell. Analysis of a C-terminal mCherry fusion of the protein however showed mainly cytoplasmic label. A pplp4 null mutant formed motile ookinetes, but these were unable to invade and traverse the midgut epithelium resulting in severely impaired oocyst formation and no transmission to naïve mice. However, when in vitro cultured ookinetes were injected into the thorax of the mosquito, thus by-passing midgut passage, sporozoites were formed and the mutant parasites were able to infect naïve mice. Taken together, our data show that PPLP4 is required only for ookinete invasion of the mosquito midgut. Thus PPLP4 has a similar role to the previously studied PPLP3 and PPLP5, raising the question why three proteins with MACPF domains are needed for invasion by the ookinete of the mosquito midgut epithelium.
Project description:During mosquito transmission, malaria ookinetes must cross a chitin-containing structure known as the peritrophic matrix (PM), which surrounds the infected blood meal in the mosquito midgut. In turn, ookinetes produce multiple chitinase activities presumably aimed at disrupting this physical barrier to allow ookinete invasion of the midgut epithelium. Plasmodium chitinase activities are demonstrated targets for human and avian malaria transmission blockade with the chitinase inhibitor allosamidin. Here, we identify and characterize the first chitinase gene of a rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei. We show that the gene, named PbCHT1, is a structural ortholog of PgCHT1 of the avian malaria parasite Plasmodium gallinaceum and a paralog of PfCHT1 of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Targeted disruption of PbCHT1 reduced parasite infectivity in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes by up to 90%. Reductions in infectivity were also observed in ookinete feeds-an artificial situation where midgut invasion occurs before PM formation-suggesting that PbCHT1 plays a role other than PM disruption. PbCHT1 null mutants had no residual ookinete-derived chitinase activity in vitro, suggesting that P. berghei ookinetes express only one chitinase gene. Moreover, PbCHT1 activity appeared insensitive to allosamidin inhibition, an observation that raises questions about the use of allosamidin and components like it as potential malaria transmission-blocking drugs. Taken together, these findings suggest a fundamental divergence among rodent, avian, and human malaria parasite chitinases, with implications for the evolution of Plasmodium-mosquito interactions.
Project description:Using an in vitro culture system, we observed the migration of malaria ookinetes on the surface of the mosquito midgut and invasion of the midgut epithelium. Ookinetes display constrictions during migration to the midgut surface and a gliding motion once on the luminal midgut surface. Invasion of a midgut cell always occurs at its lateral apical surface. Invasion is rapid and is often followed by invasion of a neighboring midgut cell by the ookinete. The morphology of the invaded cells changes dramatically after invasion, and invaded cells die rapidly. Midgut cell death is accompanied by activation of a caspase-3-like protease, suggesting cell death is apoptotic. The events occurring during invasion were identical for two different species of Plasmodium and two different genera of mosquitoes; they probably represent a universal mechanism of mosquito midgut penetration by the malaria parasite.
Project description:Malaria parasites are transmitted by <i>Anopheles</i> mosquitoes. During its life cycle in the mosquito vector the <i>Plasmodium</i> ookinete escapes the proteolytic milieu of the post-blood meal midgut by traversing the midgut wall. This process requires penetration of the chitin-containing peritrophic matrix lining the midgut epithelium, which depends in part on ookinete-secreted chitinases. <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i> ookinetes have one chitinase (PfCHT1), whereas ookinetes of the avian-infecting parasite, <i>P. gallinaceum</i>, have two, a long and a short form, PgCHT1 and PgCHT2, respectively. Published data indicates that PgCHT2 forms a high molecular weight (HMW) reduction-sensitive complex; and one binding partner is the ookinete-produced von Willebrand A-domain-containing protein, WARP. Size exclusion chromatography data reported here show that <i>P. gallinaceum</i> PgCHT2 and its ortholog, <i>P. falciparum</i> PfCHT1 are covalently-linked components of a HMW chitinase-containing complex (> 1,300 kDa). Mass spectrometry of ookinete-secreted proteins isolated using a new chitin bead pull-down method identified chitinase-associated proteins in <i>P. falciparum</i> and <i>P. gallinaceum</i> ookinete-conditioned culture media. Mass spectrometry of this complex showed the presence of several micronemal proteins including von Willebrand factor A domain-related protein (WARP), ookinete surface enolase, and secreted ookinete adhesive protein (SOAP). To test the hypothesis that ookinete-produced PfCHT1 can form a high molecular homo-multimer or, alternatively, interacts with <i>P. berghei</i> ookinete-produced proteins to produce an HMW hetero-multimer, we created chimeric <i>P. berghei</i> parasites expressing <i>PfCHT1</i> to replace <i>PbCHT</i>1, enabling the production of large numbers of PfCHT1-expressing ookinetes. We show that chimeric <i>P. berghei</i> ookinetes express monomeric PfCHT1, but a HMW complex containing <i>PfCHT1</i> is not present. A better understanding of the chitinase-containing HMW complex may enhance development of next-generation vaccines or drugs that target malaria transmission stages.
Project description:The ability to invade tissues is a unique characteristic of the malaria stages that develop/differentiate within the mosquitoes (ookinetes and sporozoites). On the other hand, tissue invasion by many pathogens has often been associated with increased matrix metalloprotease (MMP) activity in the invaded tissues. By employing cell biology and reverse genetics, we studied the expression and explored putative functions of one of the three MMPs encoded in the genome of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae, namely, the Anopheles gambiae MMP1 (AgMMP1) gene, during the processes of blood digestion, midgut epithelium invasion by Plasmodium ookinetes, and oocyst development. We show that AgMMP1 exists in two alternative isoforms resulting from alternative splicing; one secreted (S-MMP1) and associated with hemocytes, and one membrane type (MT-MMP1) enriched in the cell attachment sites of the midgut epithelium. MT-MMP1 showed a remarkable response to ookinete midgut invasion manifested by increased expression, enhanced zymogen maturation, and subcellular redistribution, all indicative of an implication in the midgut epithelial healing that accompanies ookinete invasion. Importantly, RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing of the AgMMP1 gene revealed a postinvasion protective function of AgMMP1 during oocyst development. The combined results link for the first time an MMP with vector competence and mosquito-Plasmodium interactions.
Project description:We present a detailed analysis of the interactions between Anopheles stephensi midgut epithelial cells and Plasmodium berghei ookinetes during invasion of the mosquito by the parasite. In this mosquito, P. berghei ookinetes invade polarized columnar epithelial cells with microvilli, which do not express high levels of vesicular ATPase. The invaded cells are damaged, protrude towards the midgut lumen and suffer other characteristic changes, including induction of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) expression, a substantial loss of microvilli and genomic DNA fragmentation. Our results indicate that the parasite inflicts extensive damage leading to subsequent death of the invaded cell. Ookinetes were found to be remarkably plastic, to secrete a subtilisin-like serine protease and the GPI-anchored surface protein Pbs21 into the cytoplasm of invaded cells, and to be capable of extensive lateral movement between cells. The epithelial damage inflicted is repaired efficiently by an actin purse-string-mediated restitution mechanism, which allows the epithelium to 'bud off' the damaged cells without losing its integrity. A new model, the time bomb theory of ookinete invasion, is proposed and its implications are discussed.
Project description:The mosquito complement-like system is a major defense mechanism that limits Plasmodium infection. Ookinete midgut invasion results in irreversible damage to invaded cells and triggers epithelial nitration and complement activation. Several lines of evidence suggest that hemocytes participate in early antiplasmodial responses that target ookinetes, but their role remains unclear. The fate of hemocytes in response to Plasmodium infection was investigated by labeling this cell population in vivo. We found that midgut nitration triggers the local release of hemocyte-derived microvesicles (HdMv) into the basal labyrinth of the midgut. Several different strategies, such as gene silencing, immune priming, or systemic injection of polystyrene beads, were used to either enhance or reduce HdMv release. We provide direct experimental evidence that contact of hemocytes with the nitrated midgut basal surface triggers HdMv release and that this response is necessary for effective activation of mosquito complement. Our studies suggest that hemocyte-derived microvesicles may deliver some critical factor(s) that promote activation of thioester-containing protein 1, a key effector of the mosquito antiplasmodial immunity.