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Cell Microbiol. 2011 Jul;13(7):955-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2011.01591.x. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Multiple roles for Plasmodium berghei phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C in regulating gametocyte activation and differentiation.

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UMR5235, CNRS-Université Montpellier 2, Place Eugène Bataillon, Montpellier cedex 5, France.


Critical events in the life cycle of malaria parasites are controlled by calcium-dependent signalling cascades, yet the molecular mechanisms of calcium release remain poorly understood. The synchronized development of Plasmodium berghei gametocytes relies on rapid calcium release from internal stores within 10 s of gametocytes being exposed to mosquito-derived xanthurenic acid (XA). Here we addressed the function of phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) for regulating gametocyte activation. XA triggered the hydrolysis of PIP(2) and the production of the secondary messenger IP(3) in gametocytes. Both processes were selectively blocked by a PI-PLC inhibitor, which also reduced the early Ca(2+) signal. However, microgametocyte differentiation into microgametes was blocked even when the inhibitor was added up to 5 min after activation, suggesting a requirement for PI-PLC beyond the early mobilization of calcium. In contrast, inhibitors of calcium release through ryanodine receptor channels were active only during the first minute of gametocyte activation. Biochemical determination of PI-PLC activity was confirmed using transgenic parasites expressing a fluorescent PIP(2) /IP(3) probe that translocates from the parasite plasmalemma to the cytosol upon cell activation. Our study revealed a complex interdependency of Ca(2+) and PI-PLC activity, with PI-PLC being essential throughout gamete formation, possibly explaining the irreversibility of this process.

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