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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2000 Apr 30;108(1):67-78.

Expression of Plasmodium falciparum trimeric G proteins and their involvement in switching to sexual development.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK.


Both cholera and pertussis toxins were used to label and study the expression of heterotrimeric G protein alpha subunits in Plasmodium falciparum extracts. Expression of these proteins is developmentally regulated throughout the erythrocytic cycle with peak expression during early asexual development and in mature sexual stages. Treatment of P. falciparum cultures with cholera toxin causes an increase in conversion to sexual development, and at the same concentration has a marginal inhibitory effect on asexual growth and division. Through precise synchronisation of the parasites' asexual cell cycle, we have defined the period of sensitivity to this induction at around the time of invasion, one cycle before the development of the sexual form. Fluorescent microscopy confirmed that access of the toxin to the parasite is limited to the invasive form - the free merozoite, while further labelling studies revealed expression of a single G protein alpha subunit in these stages. These observations are consistent with the view that a G protein-dependent signal transduction pathway is involved in coupling the parasite's environment to commitment to sexual development (gametocytogenesis). This means of artificially stimulating the pathways leading to sexual development can now be used to biochemically follow the activation of the signalling pathways involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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