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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 30;110(18):E1676-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217712110. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Transposon mutagenesis identifies genes essential for Plasmodium falciparum gametocytogenesis.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Gametocytes are essential for Plasmodium transmission, but little is known about the mechanisms that lead to their formation. Using piggyBac transposon-mediated insertional mutagenesis, we screened for parasites that no longer form mature gametocytes, which led to the isolation of 29 clones (insertional gametocyte-deficient mutants) that fail to form mature gametocytes. Additional analysis revealed 16 genes putatively responsible for the loss of gametocytogenesis, none of which has been previously implicated in gametocytogenesis. Transcriptional profiling and detection of an early stage gametocyte antigen determined that a subset of these mutants arrests development at stage I or in early stage II gametocytes, likely representing genes involved in gametocyte maturation. The remaining mutants seem to arrest before formation of stage I gametocytes and may represent genes involved in commitment to the gametocyte lineage.

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