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EMBO J. 1992 Jun;11(6):2293-301.

Gene inactivation of Pf11-1 of Plasmodium falciparum by chromosome breakage and healing: identification of a gametocyte-specific protein with a potential role in gametogenesis.

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Unité de Parasitologie Expérimentale, CNRS URA 361, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


We report the identification of the product of the Plasmodium falciparum Pf11-1 gene and demonstrate that it is a gametocyte-specific protein that has a potential role in the rupture of the host erythrocyte and emergence of the gametes (gametogenesis). The Pf11-1 gene is a large locus (30 kb) whose sequence predicts a glutamic acid-rich polypeptide. Our identification of the Pf11-1 gene product as gametocyte specific was greatly facilitated by the isolation of a mutant parasite clone in which greater than 90% of the Pf11-1 gene was deleted. Molecular analysis of the mutant locus suggests that the underlying genetic mechanism is chromosome breakage and subsequent healing by the addition of telomere repeats. PCR-based analysis showed that similar DNA rearrangements occur commonly in small subpopulations of most laboratory strains, suggesting that the Pf11-1 locus represents a fragile chromosome region. Northern blot analysis demonstrates that a large Pf11-1 gene-specific transcript (much greater than 10 kb) is present in gametocytes but not in asexual blood stage parasites. The Pf11-1 protein was localized by electron microscopy to granules in the cytoplasm of gametocytes adjacent to the membrane of the parasitophorous vacuole. Following in vitro stimulation of gametogenesis, the Pf11-1 protein was found in the membrane of lysed erythrocytes, suggesting a role for Pf11-1 in erythrocyte rupture within the mosquito gut.

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