Three members of the 6-cys protein family of Plasmodium play a role in gamete fertility

van Dijk, M.R. et al. (2010) Three members of the 6-cys protein family of Plasmodium play a role in gamete fertility. PLoS Pathogens, 6(6), e1000853. (doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000853)



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Sexual reproduction for malaria parasites is an essential process and is necessary for parasite transmission between hosts. Fertilisation between female and male gametes occurs in the midgut of the mosquito and proteins on the surface of gametes are principle targets in transmission blocking strategies. Despite their importance, relatively little is known about the malaria proteins involved in fertilisation. In this study we show that two gamete proteins, one expressed on the surface of males, the other on the surface of females, have important roles in the mutual recognition and attachment of gametes. Mutant parasites that lack the presence of these surface proteins show a strong reduction in fertility. Comparison of these gamete surface proteins in different malaria parasites showed that these proteins are evolving rapidly either across their length or at discreet regions/domains. We found, that despite the drastic reduction in zygote formation, low levels of fertilisation can still occur in the absence of these surface proteins, indicating that gametes can use alternative proteins to recognize each other. Both genetic variation of gamete surface proteins and the presence of different fertilisation pathways have important implications for transmission blocking vaccines targeting gamete surface proteins.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Waters, Professor Andy
Authors: van Dijk, M.R., van Schaijk, B.C.L., Khan, S.M., van Dooren, M.W., Ramesar, J., Kaczanowski, S., van Gemert, G.J., Kroeze, H., Stunnenberg, H.G., Eling, W.M., Sauerwein, R.W., and Waters, A.P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Journal Name:PLoS Pathogens
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1553-7374
Published Online:01 January 2010
Copyright Holders:© 2010 van Dijk et al
First Published:First published in PLoS Pathogens 2010 6(6): e1000853
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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