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PLoS Pathog. 2005 Sep;1(1):e9. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Exit of Plasmodium sporozoites from oocysts is an active process that involves the circumsporozoite protein.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Michael Heidelberger Division, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, United States of America. wangq04@med.nyu.edu


Plasmodium sporozoites develop within oocysts residing in the mosquito midgut. Mature sporozoites exit the oocysts, enter the hemolymph, and invade the salivary glands. The circumsporozoite (CS) protein is the major surface protein of salivary gland and oocyst sporozoites. It is also found on the oocyst plasma membrane and on the inner surface of the oocyst capsule. CS protein contains a conserved motif of positively charged amino acids: region II-plus, which has been implicated in the initial stages of sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes. We investigated the function of region II-plus by generating mutant parasites in which the region had been substituted with alanines. Mutant parasites produced normal numbers of sporozoites in the oocysts, but the sporozoites were unable to exit the oocysts. In in vitro as well, there was a profound delay, upon trypsin treatment, in the release of mutant sporozoites from oocysts. We conclude that the exit of sporozoites from oocysts is an active process that involves the region II-plus of CS protein. In addition, the mutant sporozoites were not infective to young rats. These findings provide a new target for developing reagents that interfere with the transmission of malaria.

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